Castel has launched the inaugural vintage of its Ethiopian wine range with 2014 production estimated at 1.2m bottles.

The Bordeaux-based group's venture in the East African state, which began in 2007, has seen it invest EUR20m (US$26.9m) in planting vines imported from France and in building a winery, it confirmed to just-drinks today (24 July). The estate, situated at an altititude of 1,600 metres, lies at around 150km south of the country's capital, Addis Ababa and covers 160 hectares.

The wines will be marketed under the Acacia and Rift Valley labels and are expected to be sold for between EUR5 and EUR7 per bottle. The Rift Valley range will include single grape varieties made from Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The Acacia brand will be a blend.

Castel, which also operates in the beer and soft drinks categories, is targeting both domestic and export markets for the wines. 

Family-owned Castel's aim is for the venture in Ethiopia to be profitable by 2016. The group also plans to increase the size of its vineyards in order to accommodate annual production of 3m bottles a year.