An internet bulk wine broking company based in Paarl, South Africa has sold R1.5 million ($194,805) worth of wine in its first three weeks of trading. More than 40 wine producers throughout the Cape have started using WineTrader, which is linked to wine.co.za, a retail e-commerce website.

The site has already attracted 56 local and international buyers and, like the number of Cape producers using the site, is growing on a daily basis, said Gert Bormans, MD of WineTrader.

"With over 6 million litres of wine on offer at an FOB price of over R21m ($2.7m) this environment is supplying a much needed resource to the industry," said Bormans.

South African bulk natural wine exports for 1999 topped 46 million litres last year, which made up 36.4% of total natural wine exports in 1999, according to the South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (SAWIS) statistics released this year.

"We joined up with Kevin Kidson and his team from wine.co.za and we have not used any venture capital to start up this side of the business," said Bormans.

"We are concentrating on South African wines, because we understand the market for these wines and will develop it properly before looking to expand elsewhere.