The “noble” cultivars, namely Chardonnay, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Sauvignon blanc (in other words, the so-called “big six”), all ranked among the ten most planted cultivars in 1999.
Figure 9 indicates the total plantings in hectares of eight different cultivars from 1997 to 1999, expressed as a percentage of the total plantings over the period. From the figure it is clear that over the three year period, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz jointly occupied the top position, followed by Colombar and Merlot.
Figure 10 indicates the total plantings of white and red cultivars in hectares, expressed as a percentage of the total plantings for the period 1995 to 1999. It is clearly discernible that the percentage plantings of red cultivars increased annually from 28 % in 1995 to 73 % of all plantings in 1999. On the other hand, there was a distinct decrease annually in the percentage plantings of white cultivars from 72 % in 1995 to 27 % in 1999.
3 ANALYSIS OF WINE GRAPE CULTIVARS PLANTED IN THE VARIOUS KWV DISTRICTS – 1 DECEMBER 1998 TO 30 NOVEMBER 1999
Table 4 gives an analysis of the wine grape cultivars planted in the various districts from 1 December 1998 to 30 November 1999. Only the five most important cultivars’ position and percentage of total plantings within a specific district are indicated.
From Table 4 the following is clear:
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most planted cultivar in Paarl (28,3 %), Malmesbury (25,1 %), Stellenbosch (30,0 %) and Robertson (25,8 %), and the fourth most in Olifants River (12,3 %), Little Karoo (11,8 %) and Worcester (14,8 %).
From 1990 (3 504 ha) to 1993 (4 660 ha) there was an annual increase in the total plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, while the total plantings in 1994 (4 621 ha) and 1995 (4 650 ha) showed a slight decrease compared to 1993. Following the sharp increase to 5 615 ha in 1998, the total vines increased drastically to 6 963 ha in 1999. (Figure 1).
However, from 1986 (379 ha) to 1999 (5 983 ha) there was an annual increase in total Chardonnay plantings. The planting of 114 hectares in 1999 represents the second decrease in the Chardonnay planting trend since 1993 (Figure 2).
Chenin blanc is the most planted cultivar (29,3 %) in the Little Karoo, the third most in the Orange River (12,6 %) and the fifth most in Malmesbury (5,7 %), Paarl (5,6 %) and Worcester (8,6 %). Chenin blanc does not rank among the first five cultivars planted in the Olifants River, Robertson and Stellenbosch districts.
From 1990 (29 355 ha) to 1999 (24 768 ha) there was an annual decrease in total Chenin blanc vines. Since 1990, except for 1994 (581 ha) and 1997 (524 ha), the annual plantings stabilised between 340 and 500 hectares (Figure 3).
Colombar was planted second most in the Orange River (31,9 %), third most in the Little Karoo (17,1 %) and fifth most in the Olifants River (9,3 %). In Malmesbury, Paarl, Stellenbosch and Robertson Colombar does not figure among the top five cultivars planted.
Colombar is still experiencing an upward trend and total plantings amounted to 11 673 ha in 1999. 1997 saw the second most Colombar plantings in 12 years (624 ha), but thereafter plantings decreased to 536 ha and 483 ha in 1998 and 1999 respectively. (Figure 4).
Merlot occupies the second position in the Olifants River (17,9 %) and the third position in Malmesbury (16,4 %), Paarl (14,7 %), Robertson (14,6 %), Stellenbosch (19,8%) and Worcester (15,0 %) with regard to plantings. The 755 hectares established in 1999 represent the biggest plantings the past fourteen years (Figure 5).
Pinotage is the second most planted in the Worcester (17,1 %) and Little Karoo (17,9 %) districts and the third most in the Olifants River (13,9 %). Pinotage is the fourth most planted in Orange River (6,1 %), Malmesbury (16,3 %), Paarl (11,9 %), Robertson (9,9 %) and Stellenbosch (12,1 %).
The decreasing trend in total Pinotage vines since 1986 was reversed in 1993, when plantings began to increase. In 1999 673 ha of Pinotage were planted (Figure 6).
Ruby Cabernet is the fifth most planted in the Orange River (5,6 %) and Robertson (8,4 %) districts.
Sauvignon blanc is the fifth most planted cultivar in Stellenbosch (3,4 %).
From 1986 (2 618 ha) to 1999 (5 277 ha) there was an annual increase in the total Sauvignon blanc vines (Figure 7).
Although Shiraz does not rank among the ten most important cultivars with regard to total vines planted, it was the most planted cultivar in the Olifants River (28,3 %) and Worcester (20,2 %) districts in 1999. It is also the second most planted cultivar in Paarl (21,0 %), Malmesbury (22,7 %), Robertson (22,3 %) and Stellenbosch (23,7 %). It is the fifth most planted cultivar in the Little Karoo (9,4 %).
Annual plantings since 1997 (282 ha) show a steep increase, with plantings of 1 150 ha in 1999. The total plantings also show an annual increase since 1991, with a steep increase in 1997 (1 329 ha), 1998 (1 999 ha) and especially 1999 (3 469 ha) (Figure 8).
As in the previous year, Sultana occupies the first position with regard to total plantings in one district only, namely the Orange River (34,2 %).
The national planting patterns clearly indicate that the current focus is on the establishment of premium red cultivars, thereby consolidating the contribution of these cultivars to the South African wine industry.