South Africa’s wine trade is attracting foreign investment at a significant rate and the trend shows little sign of declining, according to an industry expert.

Speaking at the South African wine industry's Cape Wine 2012 trade fair this week, Mike Ratcliffe, MD of Warwick Wine Estate and Vilafonte winery, said that the country's wine industry is seeing a “significant acceleration” in foreign companies and individuals investing in brands and wineries.

“In the last 20 years, the technological ability of South Africa’s winemakers has exploded,” said Ratcliffe. “There are some great winemakers and people from around the world who are really getting stuck in.”

He added: “It’s not a slow trend. We are seeing a significant acceleration in investment in South Africa's wine industry.” 

Ratcliffe, who showcased a number of wine brands that had benefited from investment from outside South Africa, later told just-drinks that part of the attraction is the relatively cheap land the country offers. 

However, he told the seminar that not everybody was supportive of this trend. “There are detractors who say we shouldn’t be selling our wineries to foreigners,” he said. “I would disagree. It can be a catalyst to take our industry to great heights.” 

He also told just-drinks that investors from China are starting to show "a lot of interest" in South Africa. 

Yesterday, Troy Christensen, CEO of Accolade Wines, told exhibition attendees that the country needs to develop "brand South Africa" to help boost the image of its wines abroad.