Wines of South Africa is confident of a good 2013 harvest

Wines of South Africa is confident of a good 2013 harvest

South Africa's wine exports hit record highs last year as poor harvests in rival nations boosted demand for the country's brands. 

Overseas sales reached 417m litres last year, 10m more than the previous high in 2008, Wines of South Africa (WoSA) said today (14 January). The figure is a 17% increase on last year, WoSA added.

This year could also see booming exports with early signs pointing to another strong harvest, according to WoSA CEO Su Birch. “At this stage, all indications are that this year's local crop could be the third-biggest in recorded history,” said Birch. “The anticipated crop size is despite a decrease in total plantings, thanks to one of the best winter seasons in the Western Cape for many years.”

Smaller harvests in other wine-producing nations such as New Zealand, Australia and Europe affected production last year, and put global output at its lowest level in 37 years, according to one study. Last week, Constellation Brands CEO Rob Sands warned a rise in grape prices due to the smaller harvest will affect the whole industry. 

WoSA said non-packaged wine accounted for 59% of South Africa's exports last year, but demand for packaged output is growing in North America, Japan, China, and some affluent African nations. 

Meanwhile, WoSA last week moved to dismiss reports that civil unrest in the Western Cape town of De Doorns was linked to the wine industry, after the BBC reported that police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse farm workers striking over pay. 

Today, the trade body added that it regretted the unrest and “huge strides” were being made to ensure decent working conditions on wine-producing farms.