Half of 1.2m bottles of Rift Valley wine are intended for export, with company planning to double production.
The grape names – merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay – are distinctly French, but the label on the Rift Valley wines is surprising: made in Ethiopia.
The French beverage giant Castel, one of the world’s biggest producers of wines and beers, is raising a glass to its first production of 1.2m bottles of Ethiopian Rift Valley wine.
The African state’s former president Meles Zenawi, who died in 2012, encouraged Castel to develop vineyards in Ethiopia, one of Africa’s poorest countries, as a way of improving its image.
Half of the bottles are destined for domestic consumption and half for export to countries where the Ethiopian diaspora have settled, though 26,000 have already been snapped up by a Chinese buyer.
Although Castel does not expect its Ethiopian wine business to make a profit until 2016, it hopes to more than double production to 3m bottles a year. Though Ethiopia is better known for its production of another drink, coffee, Castel says the African country has the potential to rival the continent’s main wine producer, South Africa.
“It’s not that difficult because the climate is good and it’s not too hot,” Castel’s Ethiopia site manager, Olivier Spillebout, told Agence France-Presse. “Exports are small now, but year after year they will grow.”
The company has produced a better quality wine called Rift Valley, selling in Ethiopia for the equivalent of €7 (£5.50) and a grape-mix wine called Acacia, retailing at the equivalent of €5.
Read more at: The Guardian