It has been a difficult year for everyone in the global wine business for all kinds of different reasons but for South African winemakers the pandemic has hit them in a particularly brutal way. All domestic alcohol sales were banned three times during different lockdowns since March last year and were only lifted in a limited fashion at the beginning of this month. But that only came after horror stories of wine being poured away for lack of storage space and there being no market for wine being made during what was said to be a particularly good vintage. Fortunately, exports, apart from a brief ban last spring, have not been seriously affected and indeed increased to the UK, by 7 per cent in volume and 23 per cent in value, reflecting the increase in more premium wines; and that is important because the UK is South Africa’s most important export destination, with around 24 per cent of its sales. However, the continuing restrictions on hospitality here will also have had an effect on sales.
But with more and more South African wines available in the high street and online, in a diverse array of styles and prices, it is a great time to support their industry and explore what’s on offer from one of the oldest of the ‘new world’ wine makers, where wine was first made in the Cape in 1659.
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