That is not far off the volume sold by Argentina, one of the top 10 wine-producing countries in the UK market.
The sector, which ranges from alcohol-free wines up to 5.5% abv, grew around 60% by value in the year to the end of September, and by some 50% by volume.
“It could get to 5 million cases in five years, providing the taste doesn’t disappoint – that is key,” Nielsen analyst Stewart Blunt told OLN.
He said the sector is helped by people looking for lower-alcohol alternatives to their regular bottle of wine – and because it is cheaper than full-strength products.
“Here is something that looks the part, appeases the conscience and is light on the pocket – what a great combination,” he said.
First Cape’s 5.5% abv range Café Collection is now worth £18 million and is growing at 152% by value, according to distributor Brand Phoenix.
Joint UK director Steve Rosser said: “Given the consumer trend towards lighter-abv products coupled with the inflationary pressures of the exchange rate and duty, this lighter-style category is set to become extremely powerful.
“Our research shows there is huge consumer interest in the category for a number of reasons.
“Lighter-style wines offer drinkers the chance to enjoy good-tasting wines at a much lower abv and a more affordable price.”
Rosser said First Cape’s lighter-style sparkling wines are the fastest-growing sparkling wine brand in the market – and Blunt said sparkling wines are doing well within the growing sector.
German producer Reh Kendermann has launched a 5.5% abv brand – B by Black Tower. A white and a pink version will be priced at £4.99.
Joint managing director Nik Schritz said: “We believe this new range will provide a strong opportunity for our customers to further increase sales. B by Black Tower is perfectly positioned to offer target consumers what they want to enjoy – a lower alcohol wine with a fruity, aromatic, full flavour from a top lifestyle brand they know they can trust, without compromising on taste.”