Sales of South African wines in the UK have overtaken French wine sales in the country, according to South Africa's wine trade organisation.

Wines of South Africa (WoSA) said earlier this week that its producers' wine sales in the UK for the 12 months to 23 January grew by 20% in volume to 12.3m nine-litre cases. This compared to a decline in French wine sales in the same period of 12%, to 12.26m cases.

South Africa is now the fourth largest selling country for wine in the UK, WoSA claimed.

When Nelson Mandela was elected president in 1994, South Africa's wine industry exported in the region of  50m litres of wine globally, whereas, by the close of 2009 exports had increased eightfold, reaching almost 400m litres, WoSA noted.

“In 1994, our producers wouldn’t have dreamt of selling more wine to the UK than France, but now the wine landscape has changed completely,” said WoSA's UK market manager, Jo Mason. “UK consumers no longer default to European wine.”

The trade body is hoping for a bumper 2010, Mason noted, with the FIFA World Cup taking place in South Africa this summer.