Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Calls for UK trade to help crippled SA by freeing up tank space

Published:  25 January, 2021

Richard Bampfield MW has issued a call to the UK trade to support the beleaguered South African wine industry as producers continue to suffer crippling government restriction and oversupply issues.

Winemakers in the country suffered a rollercoaster of a year in 2020 (see timeline below), and are still currently legally banned from selling wine domestically.

Exports are now permitted once again. However, as the southern hemisphere heads into harvest, producers are facing the unenviable prospect of having to decide whether to throw away wine in order to make space in tank for the new year’s crush.

Although not a permanent solution, Bampfield is imploring buyers in the UK to help deplete stocks in South African wine tanks and reinvigorate the industry by encouraging retailers to reorder.

“I have no particular allegiance to South African wines over any others,” Bampfield told Harpers. “But I’ve gained such huge enjoyment from so many of their wines in recent years that it breaks my heart to hear how their vineyard could be permanently diminished by the present oversupply – and that they have been disproportionately disadvantaged by the pandemic because of the actions of their government.”

Bampfield was inspired to act following a recent exposé of South Africa’s struggle by winemaker Bruce Jack in The Buyer.

In lieu of government support for the wine industry and workers at large, producers have been doubling down on humanitarian efforts to feed local populations.

To help support this vital agricultural industry, which is the only wine producing region worldwide to suffer a complete ban on alcohol during the Covid-19 related lockdowns, Bampfield is also advocating use of the hashtag #myfavouritesouthafricanwines.

To take part, use the hashtag coupled with details of your favourite South African wines. This would ideally be three or four from a broad range of producers, retailers and price points, while also encouraging others to follow suit.

“The need is urgent as the new harvest is already starting, so we need to start immediately,” Bampfield said.

South Africa 2020 timeline: A rollercoaster of alcohol bans as the government aimed to minimise admissions to hospitals in the wake of the Covid pandemic 

23 March – Lockdown announced.

26 March – From midnight, SA was put on Level 5 lockdown. No local sales or exports of alcohol permitted, however the industry (at the very last minute) was given dispensation to complete the harvest and basic manufacture of wine.

7 April – Permission granted to transport and therefore export wine.

16 April – Transport of wine was revoked, therefore no exports.

1 May – Transport and export of wine and manufacturing processes allowed provided safety protocols are observed.

1 June – Local sales of alcohol open up with restricted hours between Monday and Thursday, 9am-5pm. No on-trade consumption allowed.

12 July – Local sales ban reinstated.

17 August – Local sales once again allowed within restricted hours, Monday to Thursday, 9am-5pm. On-trade consumption allowed seven days a week outside of curfew hours (curfew: 10pm to 4am). 

21 September – Local sales hours extended to include Fridays 9am to 5pm. On-site consumption allowed as before with revised curfew hours of midnight to 4am.

14 December – Local sales restricted again to 10am to 6pm Monday to Thursday. Dispensation was given to wineries to operate cellar door sales and on-trade consumption on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, though this was disregarded just two weeks later.

28 December – Local sales ban reinstated.