South African wine shortage.

Distell Group Ltd., South Africa’s biggest wine and liquor maker, said the country may experience wine shortages as grape production falls short of demand.

“In some markets a wine glut is continuing and there is oversupply,” Managing Director Jan Scannell said in a telephone interview from Stellenbosch today. “In other parts of the world we seem to be moving into a shortage. In South Africa specifically, if you look at the total need for the production of grapes, we are moving into a shortage.”

South Africa is the world’s ninth-largest wine producer, with about 4,000 farmers producing grapes, according to Wines of South Africa, an industry body. A global oversupply of wine has prompted a number of farms to switch to other products.

“Prices at a producer basis are stabilizing and starting to improve, which would be positive for the industry,” Scannell said.

Stellenbosch-based Distell said today net income rose 0.2 percent to 954.4 million rand ($121.4 million) in the year through June, as sales rose outside its home market. Wine sales showed “marginal growth” in South Africa, while in other markets they surged 27 percent, the company said in a statement.

Distell is preparing for a “rough ride” over the next six months as the global recession erodes consumer spending, Scannell said.

“Our results are going to very much depend on the recovery in the market,” he said. “It is extremely difficult for us to say what is going to happen in the economy. Volumes, specifically of spirits, have been under pressure as consumers move to less profitable products.”

Distell intends investing in new plants to produce sparkling wine and cider.

“We have no unutilized capacity at the moment,” Scannell said. “As we grow we’ve got to invest in new capacity. There is not really much that we are aware of that we are interested in” in terms of acquisitions.