The South African Wine Industry Trust (SAWIT) has pledged R7 million ($897,435) to help further develop the country's export drive around the world it was announced today.

Wines of South Africa (WOSA) would be the main beneficiary from this money, which is to be used over the next 12 months to attract leading importers and media to visit the Cape and also to help wineries participate in international shows.

The Trust's general manager, Marthinus Saunderson, said the money was made available through its business development company, Busco, whose mandate was to promote South African wines abroad as well as fund research and development projects.

SAWIT was also responsible for funds through another non-profit company, Devco, which was responsible for the settlement and development of new farmers (from previously disadvantaged communities) and to support upliftment programmes of workers in the industry.

Saunderson said: "Among the companies we have invited are representatives from various countries, including Disney Inc. We hope to expose them to the wide range of quality wines available in the industry."

Several television, radio and print media visits are planned early in the year from Canada and Scandinavia as part of an ongoing programme.

"That this is all bearing fruit, is borne out by the fact that we have managed to grow our exports in traditional markets. For the nine months from January to September 2000, our turnover of bottled wines in the Netherlands increased by 42% over the same period in 1999 and has seen South Africa become the biggest seller in that country, said Saunderson.

"In the same period sales in Germany increased by 40%, while in the UK, South Africa has a 6% market share. Sales of bottled wine to the UK increased by 7% between January and September 2000. Wine sales in Scandinavia increased by 21%."