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Never in the history of SA wine have we been in such an exciting and dynamic time. We’re (quite literally) awash with wines of an all-time high quality that are also gaining long overdue international recognition. With the world in a state of constant flux, predicting future trends has never been more difficult.

Nevertheless, here are four trends that I believe will only gain in momentum this year.

RAISE A GLASS TO RISING PRICES

As the 3 year drought in the Cape winelands begins to bite, yields for the 2018 harvest are predicted to be down more than 25% in certain areas. Globally, 2017 was one of the most difficult vintages in 50 years, with production down by 8%, primarily due to extremely cold conditions in Europe and out of control wild fires in California. What this essentially means is a reduction in supply while demand remains strong. This will almost certainly increase the price of entry level wines.

A BIODYNAMIC BOOM

Thanks to global warming and our growing ecological sensibility as a result, I predict that biodynamic farming will become increasinly popular. As more and more consumers search out grape growers and wineries that are farming organically and sustainably, we can expect higher quality (and prices) as well as increased international recognition in this arena.

MORE WINE ONLINE

E-commerce in SA has lagged international trends for years, but with an increase in internet connectivity and speed, and a decrease in data costs, I expect that 2018 will be the year that more and more people swipe their way to the shops. Companies like Takealot have brought scale to the market, making it easier and more affordable for wine to be delivered directly to your door.

DOUBLE THE BUBBLE

Far from there being a bubble burst this year, I predict that the global rise of sparkling wine as an everyday lifestyle drink will continue well into 2018. The Prosecco train seems unstoppable – it’s currently the most consumed sparkling wine in the developed world. And although still building its international value proposition, Cap Classique, South Africa’s version of traditional Methode Champenoise, will finally shed its cloak to show the world how sexy it can be (both in terms of price and quality). Look out for more big bottles of bubbly (Magnums) and Brut Nature (zero sugar) style bubblies to cater for the burgeoning health conscious market.

My final prediction is that this year’s harvest is going to be small but the best vintage yet. After the Cape’s climatic suffering, there’s bound to be a hard-won depth and character in each bottle of 2018.

Wade Bales is the Founder of The Wine Society: wadebaleswinesociety.co.za

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