South African wine sales have risen 18% in value and 15% in volume (Nielsen, year to February 1) in the UK off-trade.

It means Britain holds its position as the top export destination for South Africa, and that the rainbow nation is the fifth-largest supplier to these shores.

Wines of South Africa’s UK market manager Jo Wehring told OLN: “There’s such energy around South Africa – in the trade there’s excitement and passion for what our wines can deliver and in South Africa there’s a sense of confidence that is now taking hold.

“We know we can make world class wines and people are seeing that. So often South Africa is described as the most exciting new world county and we keep proving that to be true.”

South Africa celebrates its 20th anniversary of democracy this year. In 1994 it exported just 20 million litres of wine but in 2013 this reached a record 525.7 million litres.

Wehring said it “highlights the progress made” by the nation.

Exports of packaged wines to the UK are up 31%, while bulk exports have increased by 7 per cent for the same period, though bulk growth is not expected to continue in 2014, after a bumper year in 2013.

Meanwhile Wines of Brazil has reported that the UK is now its largest export market after sales spiked on the back of listings at Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Tesco.

In the first four months of 2014 UK sales were worth £720,000 to the 16 producers that export to Britain, with volume sales at 283,000 litres.

These four-month figures represent growth of 224% in value and 287 in volume compared to the whole of 2013.