French group Castel is expecting to harvest its first wine crop in Ethiopia later this year having planted vines covering around 125 hectares in May 2008.

These are situated on farmland acquired from the Ethiopian state and located around 200km south of the country's capital, Addis Ababa.

"A production and bottling facility will be built during the course of the year and the first wines -  white and reds will be marketed in 2011,"  a company spokesperson told just-drinks.

The vineyards are planted with 40% Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon  (30%), Syrah (20%) and Chardonnay (10%).

Castel is targeting the local Ethiopian market as well as neighbouring African states such as Djibouti, southern Sudan, Kenya, Ugabnda and Tanzania.