The number of noble red wine varietals planted at the Cape has more than doubled in the past decade and this trend is expected to continue until there is an equal balance between red and white wines.

This should improve South Africa's wine profile in international market, where it has been hamstrung for having a mainly white wine prejudice since its re-entry in the early 1990s.

In the past year, five times more red varietals were planted than white varietals. In fact more vines planted to Shiraz than all the white wine varietals together. The same applied to Cabernet Sauvignon.

Industry statistics show that in 1990, white wine grapes made up 84,6% of the 92 000 hectares under vine, of which Chenin blanc comprised 31% of the total. This gradually started gradually decreasing until 1995 and then dropped dramatically to 68% by last year, while at the same time the are under vine also increased to 105,5 million ha.

By contrast noble red varietals grew from 15,4% to 32% in the same period. The only decline in red wines was for the mass producer Cinsaut, which fell from 5,7% of the total to 3,3%, according to figures released this week by the South African Wine Industry Information and Systems (SAWIS).

Last year was the first time in a decade there were more vines uprooted than planted. A total of 6 043 ha of vines were planted last year compared with the 8 013 ha uprooted.