Stellenbosch Wine Routes and at least 300 wineries in South Africa, together with Visit Stellenbosch, are throwing their weight behind an official legal application requesting evidence from the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to explain the reintroduction of a blanket ban on the domestic sale and transportation of alcohol.
In an unprecedented show of industry unity, the broad-based wine industry coalition is demanding an explanation from the Minister and questioning the prohibition’s rationality. The wine industry value chain supports almost 300,000 people, is South Africa’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products and has made great strides in inclusive growth. The entire industry has now been put at risk by these seemingly irrational rulings.
Stakeholders in the wine-producing value chain were already under tremendous strain due to initial lockdown restrictions. The latest Advanced Level 3 Regulations, issued on 12 July without any consultation with industry, will have a devastating impact on wine producers, hotels and restaurants.
Says Stellenbosch Wine Routes and Visit Stellenbosch Chair Mike Ratcliffe: “We question the rationality of newly promulgated regulations that ban wine consumption on wine farms and in restaurants. We also question the regulations which ban the physical or online purchase of wine for consumption at home. Further, we seek clarity on the assumption that the above actions will lead to the overburdening of South Africa’s health system, especially when the volume can effectively be regulated and limited.”
Uniting behind this legal application, brought by Southern African Agri Initiative, are: Stellenbosch Wine Routes, Visit Stellenbosch, the Paarl Wine Route Association, Hemel en Aarde Wine Growers Association, Franschhoek Wine Valley Tourism Association, the Wellington Wine Route Association, as well as Fairview Investments, Rust and Vrede Wynlandgoed, Welbedacht Wines and the South African Sommelier Academy. In addition, the legal motion is enjoying support from a number of wine regions and stakeholders
The new regulations are taking a major toll on employment according to Ratcliffe, “For most restaurants, business under the new regulations is now simply unsustainable. We need an inclusive solution whereby the industry is consulted, so that we can move forward in a measured, responsible manner – one which supports the Government’s objective of balancing lives with livelihoods.” The wine industry – and the sectors it supports – are running out of options to keep staff employed.