South Africa was on track to achieve a 13.5% value share of the UK market by 2005, as it recorded a growth of 9.5% for the 12 months ending June 2003, compared with 8.1% a year ago.

It was also experiencing spectacular results in Holland where it was the top New World wine exporter, with 16.1% value share of the off-licence market in that country, compared with 14.4% a year ago, according to Wines of South Africa CEO, Su Birch.

Sales volumes to Holland were up 14.7% from 12.7% last year.

But it was in the UK where the most significant moves came despite a strengthening of the Rand and higher domestic wine prices.

"We are holding to our promise of over-delivering," said Birch.

She said it placed pressure on the industry's long-term sustainability and explained why it was shifting its focus away from the very price sensitive lower segment of the market to the £5 a bottle category.

In reaching our goal of 13.5% by 2005, Birch said winemakers aimed at exporting 500,000 cases of wine to the UK retailing at £5 a bottle or more. In 2002 only 140 cases of wine were sold in this price category.