Earlier this month, for a second time this year, government introduced a ban on the sale of liquor which caught most people, including the industry, by surprise.
There is no doubt the beer, wine, and spirits industry is going to be heavily and – perhaps irreversibly – affected.
While wine producers are unlikely to face such similar devastating numbers, there is no doubt they are in for a very rough ride.
In an interview with Independent Media In May, Vinpro managing director Rico Basson said that the wine industry’s recovery could take years. Basson said that the recovery will take several years and it’s safe to say the industry will look vastly different from a structural perspective.
CEO of Wine of-the-Month Club, Cliff Collard answers below a few questions regarding wine in a time of lockdown.
How do you think this new ban on the sale and delivery of alcohol will affect the wine industry in both the short and long term?
There are going to be job losses in the short-term. In the long term, if the ban is extended drastically there will be a large contraction in the number of producers we have. That then puts pressure on a lot of the farms who sell their grapes to independent producers, which will in turn lead to these farmers investing less in their vineyards. This will then affect the quality and future production.
What do you think the wine farms can and should do to ensure their survival?
As exporting is still allowed, I think that is the last hope for a lot of them to survive. I believe though that there have been many coronavirus related problems at the Cape Town port, which is creating a large backlog. This won’t help exports.
Is there an opportunity to develop an alcohol-free wine that tastes like the real thing in much the same way the beer industry has done? What stands in the way?
I don’t want to knock alcohol free wine, there is a place for it, but to make it taste like the real thing is very difficult. Removing alcohol removes the aromas. Most of the aromas in wine are transmitted from the surface of wine by evaporating alcohol. When the alcohol is removed the aromas no longer have a delivery method. Non-alcoholic wines have aromas, but for now, most are associated with their sour post-fermentation flavours.