Wines from the country have improved significantly in quality, according to Richard Kelley

Wines from the country have improved significantly in quality, according to Richard Kelley

A UK wine agent has declared it “the most exciting time” he has seen for the South African wine industry in 20 years, but admitted the category still has a job to attract more UK consumers. 

Richard Kelley, who took over the running of importer Drefus Ashby in July, said that, due to “enormous” improvements in the quality of South African wines, the weak state of the Rand and two good harvests, the category is in a strong position.

“Europe has has had it worst harvests since 1991/92, Australia has been suffering with drought, so South Africa is perfectly placed,” Kelley told just-drinks at the Wines of the Beautiful South event in London today.

Drefus Ashby distributes wines from 12 different South African producers, with sales predominantly to the high-end off-trade in the UK.

He suggested that South Africa as a wine producer “finally has the trade and press on-side”, but that there’s “still a lot of work to do with the consumer”. 

Kelley said he believed that trade body Wines of South African (WoSA) does a "good job on a small budget" but should get more help from the country's Government. 

Earlier today, Accolade Wines highlighted the significant growth that South Africa is seeing for its Sauvignon Blanc brands.

The Beautiful South event takes place at London's Olympia today and tomorrow, featuring producers from South Africa, Chile and Argentina.