‘Government should value wine industry more’

"We are good at creating jobs and valuable to South Africa," says Danie de Wet from De Wetshof Estate

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While restaurants nationwide were blockings roads outside their premises by dragging tables and chairs into the streets, South Africa’s foremost wine fathers, Danie de Wet and Beyers Truter, have also spoken out against the covid-19 alcohol sales ban.

Although they fully acknowledge the need of a lockdown to curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus, the internationally respected winemakers have rubbished the decision by government to forbid alcohol sales.

Danie de Wet, proprietor and cellarmaster of De Wetshof Estate in the Western Cape. Photo: WOSA

Both Truter and De Wet, respectively the owners of Beyerskloof and De Wetshof in the Western Cape, believe that the shut-down of the alcohol industry was uncalled for. They too were caught off-guard by the latest booze ban, which De Wet attributes to the result of “insufficient police work”.

“We have an inefficient police service who cannot enforce the law, (so government argued it) is most probably the best idea to lockdown the alcohol industry, says De Wet, who in 1972 became the first winemaker in the Robertson region to produce the area’s first dry white wines.

Truter argues that wine producers should not be taking the blame for rapidly rising covid-19 infections. He says, “After three months of the alcohol ban, everyone has cut their budget by a third. And so wine prices are going to fall and wine farmers will most probably only get half of the income they had last year.”

Beyers Truter, winemaker at Beyerskloof in Stellenbosch
Beyers Truter, winemaker at Beyerskloof in Stellenbosch. Photo: Supplied

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Beyerskloof exports 30% of their wine. Truter says the alcohol sales ban has had a negative impact on his business. “For us, it will be a bit worse than the other guys. It will take at least two years to recover from this.”

De Wet argued that the Cape wine industry was “a lifestyle”, and that government should be valuing them much more. “We are good at creating jobs. We are good at exports. We are also good at creating an image for tourists to come to this country. We are a valuable resource to South Africa.”

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