Excerpt from FRESH PLAZA article:

“The white grape season has started in the northern regions of South Africa amid sweltering temperatures last week. Early Sweet (pictured right) opens the season at Schoonbee Landgoed, in Limpopo Province, with the following weeks seeing a quick succession of Prime and Flame, then Starlight and Midnight Beauty.

Rain and cooler temperatures at the moment will be a boon for the colour development for which the area is known. Schoonbee Landgoed, a grower-exporter, has already prepared for the possibility of rain during harvest, the nemesis of grape growers in summer rainfall areas: hundreds of square meters of their vineyards under net are covered by white plastic to keep moisture off the bunches. Spreading these sheets and tying them down, sometimes in the winds of up to 60km/h that accompany the sudden thunderstorms of the central Highveld is no mean feat, so the vineyards next in line to be harvested have already been covered and will remain so, until after harvest.

Packing for export starts this week, with their volumes to arrive at the end of week 47 or beginning of week 48 in Europe and the UK. The Far East will for the moment take precedence over Canada with the high volumes of Californian grapes this season.

“The international grape market is interesting at the moment and I expect a lot of opportunities,” remarks Gert Upton, marketing manager at Schoonbee Landgoed, who has just returned from a visit to Europe. “From conversations I’ve had with a lot of people in the grape sector, it looks like the window on white grapes could be a short one. In the Northern Hemisphere local white grapes as well as those from exporting countries are finishing up. The expectation is that white grapes will do very well for a period, until such a time when South Africa and Peru and Brazil are packing. However, sugar development in Peru is a bit slow and consequently picking has slowed down, while Brazil has had a lot of rain. There’ll be a lot of pressure on red grapes in Europe which are available for longer and in larger quantities.”

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