South African wine sales grew 20 percent, by volume, to 12,270,000 9L cases, compared to a decline in French wine sales of 12 percent, to 12,266,000 9L cases; South Africa is now the fourth largest country for wine in the UK.
Jo Mason, UK market manager, Wines of South Africa, said: “This is a momentous occasion for the South African wine industry, which is relatively young in terms of the global export market. In 1994 our producers wouldn’t have dreamt of selling more wine to the UK than France, but now the wine landscape has changed completely. UK consumers no longer default to European wine and the quality of wine from South Africa is up there with the best in the world. This achievement has coincided with a year where South Africa is thrust into the spotlight, as host nation for the FIFA World Cup, which should ensure continued success for our wines, as visitors flock to the Cape or crack open a bottle while watching the game. “
Although the South African wine industry is over 350 years old, it has been in its recent history that exports have seen significant growth. In 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected president and the country became a peaceful democracy, the industry exported around 50million litres of wine, globally; by the close of 2009 exports had increased eightfold, reaching almost 400million litres.