Distell has imported the equivalent of 1.7 million litres of absolute alcohol distilling wine and 20 million litres of dry white wine from Argentina to make up a short fall of wine for this financial year.

Talking after the company’s AGM in Stellenbosch, MD, Jan Scannell, said it was possible that Distell would require additional dry white wine because of the shortage of wine caused by fluctuations in the crop.

The wine would be used in the lower end of the local market.

He estimated that the industry would need between 55 and 60 million litres of white to make up the shortfall.

Scannell said it was obvious the industry would have to do better planning in the long term to ensure there were adequate reserves. Two seasons ago farmers, producing higher yields were getting 50c a litre and it was not economically viable, whereas today that price had gone up to R2.

For the present year the company had three themes it intended concentrating on retaining its position as the domestic market leader, become South Africa’s leading wine exporter and entrench Amarula as the No 2 cream liqueur behind Baileys Cream.

Etienne Heyns, director of international operations said Distell was chasing down the 5 million case empire built by Baileys Cream. He did not specify how many cases of Amarula Cream was sold annually he said it was growing at a steady 10% a year and was No 1 in Brazil and No 2 in a number of other markets.