South African wine and spirit group Distell has been ordered to honour a contract it cancelled with a local grape farmer, according to reports.

Distell had accepted grapes from the farmer for five years that were a mixed harvest of Colombard and Chenin Blanc grapes, when the contract had been for purely Chenin Blanc.

At the Cape High Court on Wednesday (7 December), Distell's argument that the farmer, JC Neels Neethling, had misled them over the types of grapes he was providing them with, was thrown out. The company was hoping to end its contract with Neethling five years early.

Deputy Judge President Jeanette Traverso said that the contract between the two remained binding and that Distell should pay the costs of the application. Traverso concluded that Distell must have been aware of what types of grape Neethling was supplying, but attached little importance to this as they would be used for blending.

In a report in South Africa's Business Daily, Distell's legal representative, Wessel de Wet, denied suggestions that the company was looking to cancel the contract because of a glut in the country's wine market. De Wet told the paper that at issue was the contractual obligation to supply only Chenin Blanc grapes.

No-one was available for comment at Distell when contacted by just-drinks today (9 December).