South Africa’s top wine export markets in 2018

The UK cemented its position as the most valuable export market for South African wine in 2018, show new figures.

South African wine exports rose by 4% globally to R9.06bn in 2018, despite a 6% fall in the amount of wine shipped, said trade body Wines of South Africa this week.

Pressure on supplies

‘Dwindling stocks’ in the final quarter hit export supplies, said WoSA, citing a small 2018 harvest.

There were signs that stocks may remain under pressure in some areas this year.

WoSA’s export report coincided with a statement by industry body Vinpro that South Africa’s 2019 grape harvest would only be ‘slightly larger than last year’s’.

All eyes will be on the weather in the final weeks of the growing season.

Top export markets in 2018

south african wine exports

Top markets for South African wines in 2018. Credit: WoSA.

The UK remained the top export market for South African wine by value, growing by 5% versus 2017 to R1.84bn, said WoSA. Bulk wine exports to the UK rose by 16% in value, with packaged wine static on the previous year.

WoSA said that export volumes to the UK dropped by 3%, but added that this reflected a strategy to focus on more premium price-points.

Europe did well in general, with exports to Germany up by 9% to just under R1.33bn and shipments to Sweden up by 8% to R510m.

Exports to other African countries rose by 16% in 2018 to R608m, notably thanks to Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia, WoSA said.

That made the African continent a more lucrative export market than the US, which fell by 15% in value terms to R545m. Exports to China also dropped by 5% in value overall, to R459m, although packaged wine exports to the country grew by 7%, said WoSA.

In terms of varietal wines, Chenin Blanc saw the strongest growth in 2018, with exports up by 10.3% to R868m.


See also: Old vine South African Chenin Blanc


Looking ahead

Vinpro said the 2018 harvest was 14% smaller than 2017, coming in at just under 1.24m tonnes, making it the smallest since 2005.

‘The main reasons for the smaller crop in 2019 are the poor set of wine grape bunches that are being observed throughout the Western Cape due to wet, cold conditions and wind experienced in October last year,’ said Francois Viljoen, Vinpro consultation services manager.

Vineyards were also still recovering from severe drought in many areas, although Vinpro said there was now sufficient water in most regions thanks to a wet winter. Eastern parts of Klein Karoo were still suffering from severe drought.

Looking ahead to 2019, ‘average to lower yields are expected, but grapes are generally healthy due to looser bunches that lower the risk of rot setting in,’ said Vinpro.