The Southern African Agri Initiative (Saai) has launched a new wine marketing project, The Wine Farmer, which is an online wine shop aimed at making family farm wines available to consumers across South Africa at cellar door prices.
The project is based at the Marianne Wine Estate, in Stellenbosch.
The Wine Farmer project is the second half of the organisation’s initiative to help family wine farmers get their industry going again following the alcohol ban during higher levels of the Covid-19-induced national lockdown.
During this period, Saai represented more than 220 wine farmers in a court case against Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and others to lift the ban on wine sales, because the ban “was causing tremendous harm to the industry”.
Damage to the wine industry during the seven months since the lockdown began in March stands at R7.5-billion, with the wine surplus estimated at almost 400-million litres, which is more than South Africa’s yearly local consumption.
Saai is further concerned about the thousands of hectares of vineyards being threatened and that up to 80 family farms may be lost as a result.
“Some of the oldest family farms in our country are in the Western Cape. For us as a network structure for family farmers it is critically important to keep these farmers on their farms. These farms are not only wine farms – in most cases there is also a restaurant and accommodation on the farm, which creates a large number of job opportunities – especially in the rural areas, where such opportunities are sorely needed.
"Furthermore, it is a tourism attraction peculiar to the Boland and the Western Cape,” says Saai board member Dr Theo de Jager.
Aggressive marketing of wine can go far in countering the destructive impact of irrational Covid-19 regulations and may help to get rid of wine surpluses, the organisation says, noting that it can also maintain employment opportunities, keep farmers on their farms and salvage the region’s economy.
“Whereas the authorities have done absolutely nothing so far to solve the self-made crisis, wine farm families must use the best digital and marketing technology to restore the industry,” it urges.
Initially, The Wine Farmer will list the products of ten wine farms on the website, with more farms to be added every week.
“This platform gives every consumer access to wines that are not necessarily available locally. It also cuts out the middleman, resulting in more value in the wine farmer’s pocket,” says The Wine Farmer CEO Kwagga Boucher.
“This website is more than just a wine store. Every winemaker now has a platform to tell the story of the farm and sketch the background of the wines. You cannot visit a family wine farm in the Cape every day, but The Wine Farmer makes it possible for you to enjoy a family wine at home every day,” Boucher adds.