It is estimated that wine stocks in the Cape’s wineries at the end of the year will be 21.2% less than last year and 38% less than on 31 December 1999.

At the end of 1999 stocks in cellars were at 315.6m litres and since then they have been dropping to 290.5m litres in 2000, 248.4m in 2001 and the estimate for this year is 195,8m litres.

This has probably been caused by among other aspects, smaller crops over the past two years, major increases in exports and a slight increase in domestic sales of natural wine. Domestic brandy sales are also marginally up.

According to figures released by South African Wine Information and Systems, domestic sales of wine are expected to rise by 2.9% to 374.5m litres for 2002. Domestic sales ended at 363.9m at the end of 2001, which in turn was a 2% increase on the previous year.

Earlier this year, South Africa’s biggest wine and brandy company Distell, announced it was importing both wine and brandy spirit to be able to meet its domestic requirements. It is believed one or two other big players were forced to do the same.