French wine group Castel is poised to begin wine production in Ethiopia.

Next month, it will plant the first vines covering 125 hectares on farmland totalling 300 hectares acquired from the Ethiopian state and located around 200km south of the country's capital, Addis Ababa.

"Our arrival in Ethiopia and the setting up of Castel Winery plc there, has really been driven by the state authorities who have invited us to produce locally-grown, quality wines, the country currently being heavily dependent on imports," a Castel spokesperson told just-drinks.

The 'cépage' (grape mix) will be composed of 40% Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon  (30%), Syrah (20%) and Chardonnay (10%), the spokesperson added.

The first of Castel's Ethiopian wines  - provision has been made for reds, whites and rosés - are expected to come on to the market over the next 2/3 years and will target the local Ethiopian market as well as those in neighbouring African states such as Uganda.