South Africa Vintage Chart: 2000 to 2022


The Cape enjoyed its wettest and coldest winter in recent memory. These conditions maintained for the majority of summer, triggering vigorous growth. In spite of this, yields were slightly lower than expected, but was still larger than the five-year average. A sudden and intense heat spike ramped things up preceding harvest, but fall was cool and moderate, with Cabernet Sauvignon in particular faring well. 


Moderate weather themed the season, and with it slower ripening and consequently longer hang times, concentrating both flavour and colour. The cool conditions allowed producers to cherry-pick the moment to bring in fruit, resulting in wines with ageworthy structures. Chenin again gets a nod, as do Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, while Syrah is billed as the quiet hero of this ‘fairy-tale’ vintage.  


2020 improved on modest yields recorded in 2019, the second vintage post-drought (2015–2018). Moderate to warm growing conditions continued into late autumn, which favoured white varieties (in particular, Chenin Blanc and Chardonnay), elevating acidities. Generally, red varieties were open, red-fruited and expressive of the season, with a fruit-forward exuberance. 


Across the Cape – as indeed across much of the southern hemisphere – drought suppressed harvest volumes in 2019. However, there is optimism regarding Chenin Blanc in particular, with high acidity appearing to be a feature of the vintage.


Drought was the predominant factor in South Africa in 2018. Yields were 15% lower than 2017, but the hot conditions have also concentrated flavours. Brave faces claim that quality is high, thanks to slightly cooler conditions at harvest and low disease pressure, but it certainly wasn’t an easy vintage.


Very good quality potential across the Western Cape, thanks to dry conditions throughout harvest and very little disease pressure. Many regions experienced drought conditions, resulting in a smaller-than-usual crop, but offering greater concentration of both colour and flavour as a result.


The smallest crop in half a decade has resulted in concentrated, ripe wines. The hot conditions demanded an early harvest, which means alcohol levels are generally lower than average. Sunburn was a problem in some regions, but there was at least minimal threat of rot thanks to very dry weather throughout the season.


Record early harvest but viewed as good quality by most observers, thanks to clement weather throughout the year. Yields are slightly lower than in 2014.


A challenging vintage beset by rain. Coastal regions fared better than most, but overall the expectations for quality are not high.


A wet winter and warm summer. Humidity threatened rot during the harvest, but producers with the strongest nerve successfully waited for dryer conditions. Reds are particularly promising.


Below average yields, but good quality fruit thanks to a dry, easy harvest period.


Drought, resulting in reduced yields and particular concentration in reds. Not an auspicious vintage.


Cool and dry in spring until a very wet November. December was dry again, and warm too, allowing for good late ripening. Mildew was a problem in many areas, so quality is variable.


Universal acclaim across all varieties.


Lighter than average wines, thanks to an especially cool growing season. Not an easy vintage, but the slow ripening process led to elegant examples from the best producers.


Ripe and rich, favouring Rhône varieties in particular. For a more detailed breakdown of 2007 in South Africa, click here.


Started coolly, meaning small berries with thick skins that led to great concentration. A strong vintage.


Undistinguished, with reds slightly more favoured than whites.


Cooler conditions than the norm, making for more restrained styles in both reds and whites.


Temperatures several degrees below the average, with the best results coming from the earlier ripening varieties.


Rain in abundance, leading to plentiful rot. Not a good vintage.


Continued the run of hot vintages, and produced a very small harvest of concentrated reds. Tannins were generally softer than in 2000. 


The third hot year in a row. Whites were unimpressive, but reds were powerful and concentrated, with high tannic structure.