South African wine exports in the first seven months of this year have registered a healthy lift, according to recent figures.

The country's wine industry trade body, Wines of South Africa, said today (10 September) that global wine exports climbed by 10% in the period, after a dismal 2006, when they fell by 5%.

After 12 years of sustained growth, last year's dip was a shock for the industry, but it has recovered and the present growth is expected to be sustained for the rest of the year, the body said.

The UK remained the country's biggest market and reports from producers indicated a 3% growth for the year to July. The average retail price was up to GBP3.91 (US$7.94) per 750ml bottle.

In August, Tesco expanded its South African section by 35% to 81 wines, many over the GBP4.99 barrier, while Sainsbury's reported a 25% volume growth for its South African offering for the year to June.

WOSA MD Su Birch said that she expects exports to top 300m litres by 2009 - when the industry will celebrate its 350th anniversary - up from just under 270m litres last year.