Despite battling with a strong Rand and increased competition on the domestic and international fronts, an average of one new winery opened each week over the past year.

At least 57 new wineries were started up by producers or merchant houses, while only a "tiny" handful closed, according to Andrew Mc Dowell, publisher of John Platter South African Wines 2005, which was launched yesterday.

Editor of this year's book, Philip van Zyl, said there were more wineries that had started up, but were not yet ready to have their wines tasted for this year's guide.

Van Zyl said that established wineries had also expanded their existing portfolios, with 83 new ranges with two or more wines in them.

This year's edition included 4,997 wines - 650 new wines, while about 200 previous entries were discontinued. Only 17 wines were awarded five stars this year. When the book was launched in 1980, a total of 1,250 wines were tasted.