With the Cape in the grip of a drought that has acquired the kind of legendary status normally reserved for the rinderpest, there’s been no shortage of Jeremiahs bleating about how we’ve brought a climate change disaster upon ourselves. Emboldened by this "evidence" that we’d have ample irrigation water if only we had abandoned the internal combustion engine for bicycles, they are now pronouncing on the "imminent" risk of a total vineyard wipeout. At this stage the fine wine crop does not appear to be under huge pressure, though a dramatically reduced harvest is expected in the high-volume, irrigation-dependent vineyards far to the north of Cape Town. Fruit from these sites is used for bulk wine, distillation, flavoured beverages and alcopops so there will be commercial implications for the industry as well as a large loss for the growers. Elsewhere, the big question relates to the impact of vineyard stress in terms of quality and vintage dates. Chris Mullineux has already noticed t...

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