Sunday trade in wine at registered wineries and wine farms allowed: MEC

Wine farms may operate over weekends, in line with amended Covid-19 regulations.
Wine farms may operate over weekends, in line with amended Covid-19 regulations.
Image: 123RF/ZOLGAP

Wine tasting and sales at wineries and wine farms will be permitted on Sundays under amended Covid-19 regulations, says Western Cape agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer.

The government on Thursday amended the regulation posted on Tuesday which limited wine tastings and sale of wine for off-site consumption from Mondays to Saturdays.

“This new amendment removes the limitation, which would have been detrimental to the wine tourism and agro-processing economy which employs thousands of people in the Western Cape,” said Meyer.

He said the provincial government had made a R12m grant available for the establishment of the Wine Industry Tourism Worker Support Stipend.

The stipend enables support for 1,333 wine tourism workers for three consecutive months — the peak tourism months of December 2020 and January and February 2021 — to mitigate projected job losses.

“While the Western Cape government is concerned about the resurgence of Covid-19 cases in the country, it is critical we get the balance right between saving lives and livelihoods,” said Meyer.

“Visiting a wine farm that is following careful health and safety protocols is an example of safe tourism behaviour during this difficult time. This is because it is primarily an outdoor activity with good ventilation, and where social distancing is possible.”

VinPro, a non-profit company which represents 3,500 SA wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders, welcomed the amended regulations.

“We are relieved,” VinPro MD Rico Basson said on Friday, thanking the government stakeholders involved in the amendment.

The grouping also thanked government for clarifying in the amended regulations that accommodation establishments can operate at full capacity.

“This is excellent news for our wineries operating guest houses and hotels,” said VinPro wine tourism manager Marisah Nieuwoudt.

Meyer had written to national government on Wednesday to ask for the amendment on behalf of wineries, stating: “Weekends are essential in this industry because it is precisely when tourists are likely to visit farms and purchase from them.”

Outlining the importance of the industry, Meyer said wine grapes represent half the 181,233ha under fruit production in the Western Cape.

Wine is the third biggest export product of the Western Cape economy and contributes 6.5% to the value of exports from the province.

The agriculture department estimates that 45,610 people work in the primary production side of the industry. In addition, the iconic nature of the wine industry results in strong linkages with the tourism sector.

During the initial stages of the Covid-19 lockdown, SA was the only major wine exporting country banning exports of wine.

“The result was that we handed market share on a platter to some of our competitors,” said Meyer.

“Even after the domestic trade of wine was resumed with the introduction of level 3 regulations, sales did not return to normal levels. The result is that a quarter of annual sales were lost which, in turn, adds to cash flow problems for producers.”

TimesLIVE


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