A very good year for SA wines

11 July 2013 - 02:40 By NASHIRA DAVIDS
Picturesque, healthy-looking wine farms in the Western Cape hide the reality that many of their owners are battling to stay afloat
Picturesque, healthy-looking wine farms in the Western Cape hide the reality that many of their owners are battling to stay afloat
Image: Business Times

Record harvests, a weaker rand and poor European crops equal wonderful news for South African winemakers.

According to Wines of South Africa, which represents all local wine exporters, there has been a 40% increase in exports in the first six months of the year compared to the same period in 2012.

Yesterday, Wosa and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture hosted a wine-tasting event in Beijing showcasing 250 South African wines. Packaged exports - bottled or box wine - to China have increased by 73% in the past four years. The first five months of this year yielded a 53% increase in total exports.

Agriculture MEC Gerrit van Rensburg said according to the Global Trade Atlas, South Africa is now the seventh-largest volume exporter to China.

The World Cup and South Africa's inclusion in Brics has increased awareness of local products in China.

South Africa is also the only wine-producing country that can track individual bottles of wine from the vineyard to the final product.

"This is a unique guarantee of quality and food safety we offer consumers. The Chinese trade and consumer find these attributes very attractive," said Van Rensburg.

"Couple that with our fantastic wine tourism offering and it is easy to see why South African wines are increasing in popularity."

The four biggest markets for packaged wine are the UK, Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands.

Su Birch, CEO of Wosa, believes South Africa will see steady growth in packaged wine exports as "the great quality of our wines is increasingly acknowledged worldwide".

South Africa is featured for the first time as the cover story in the July issue of the hugely influential Wine Spectator .

Award-winning UK wine journalist Tim Atkin recently reported: "I'm not alone in believing that South Africa is the most exciting New World wine-producing country on the planet, thanks to a combination of old vines, new regions and winemaking talent."

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