Open Letter to President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa on behalf of the Wine Industry
15th January 2021
RE: The Wine Industry and Alcohol Ban
Dear President Ramaphosa
In your statement on 14th December 2020, you acknowledged the vital role that registered wineries and wine farms play in the economy, society and the tourism sector.
Thank you for highlighting the fact that the wine industry is different and requires a distinctive approach. We proudly showcase our world-class wines, destinations, restaurants, accommodation facilities and agricultural products to the world in a sophisticated and uniquely African way.
Our diverse offering includes the trendsetting agri-tourism initiatives of Stellenbosch Wine Routes; wine education and wine cultural promotions via the Institute of Cape Wine Masters and the Cape Wine Academy; the transformational and educational bursary programmes of the Cape Winemakers Guild and its Development Trust; and the philanthropic educational projects of the Cape Wine Auction Trust.
South Africa is a world leader in wine agri-tourism and it has inspired many countries, including Australia, to follow in our footsteps. Stellenbosch Wine Routes will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2021. Founded in 1971, this pioneering and innovative body is one of the renowned regional wine tourism organisations in the world. Between the exceptional natural beauty of our Winelands and our wonderful South African hospitality, we now have over twenty wine routes offering diverse and aspirational experiences and destinations.
The Institute of Cape Wine Masters together with the Cape Wine Academy have advanced wine education for almost 40 years, educating more than 200 000 students since its inception, and promoting an inclusive and responsible wine consumption culture around South African products.
The Cape Winemakers Guild, which established the Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust in 1999, remains committed to real and meaningful transformation and education. The Cape Winemakers Guild Development Trust has been able to provide 40 bursaries for promising final year students at Elsenburg College and Stellenbosch University between 2009 and 2020 and has funded the training of 2564 cellar employees to further their skill set in the winery. As part of the Cape Winemakers Guild Development
Trust, the Protégé Programme’s core focus is to transform the face of South African winemaking to reflect our demographic diversity. To date 24 of the Protégé graduates have lead, supportive, and award-winning winemaking positions in the industry. This is all funded through the sale of bottled premium table wine and generous donations from the members of the Guild.
In 2014, The Cape Wine Auction Trust was established to support education in the winelands by raising money through hosting the Cape Wine Auction – in celebration of South Africa’s wine lifestyle offering and uniting the industry around a common philanthropic goal: quality education for all in the Cape Winelands. Over R100 million has been raised to facilitate programmes, with 100% of all proceeds going to the partner organisations funded. Each year more than 20 partner organisations are funded. These include not only disadvantaged schools, but also feeding programmes, psycho-social support, principal training, sport and school after-care programmes. All organisations pass stringent due diligence processes and provide two impact reports per funding cycle. A committed board of trustees, under the Chairmanship of Raymond Ndlovu, ensure that each rand is accounted for. Some examples of annual impact include the provision of over 300 000 school meals, psycho-social therapy for almost 5000 learners and additional literacy support for more than 7000 primary school children.
Mr. President, the South African wine industry plays a vital role as an employer in the agricultural and food sectors, but also throughout the value chain creating more than 265 000 jobs: affecting sommeliers, wine farm representatives, suppliers, restaurant, retail and tasting room staff, wine educators, garagistes, wine journalists and media workers – and all their families and dependants. We contribute more than R55 billion or 1,1% to the GDP of South Africa and ensure a positive effect on the balance of payments through significant exports. In various rural economies, the wine sector is the backbone of communities and towns.
Due to persistent hard work and innovation within the diverse wine landscape, South Africa has been recognised for our premium table wines and we have consistently garnered an increased share of the local and global food table.
However, the current restriction on the sale of table wine is having a devastating impact on our industry and all of the many related ancillaries, transformation initiatives, community upliftment projects and jobs! Whilst we acknowledge the distressing consequences of this rising wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the critical availability of hospital beds, we implore you to work with us to explore alternative mechanisms, for which there are precedents, to reinvigorate our industry.
We are on the brink of harvest 2021 with a significant amount of unsold stock which runs the risk of going to waste and destroying significant amounts of economic value.
WE URGE YOU TO ENGAGE WITH US AND LIFT THE BAN ON OUR PRODUCTS, IMMEDIATELY, PLEASE!
This pandemic has highlighted the role we can play to further educate the South African public to become responsible wine consumers and we hereby volunteer our services to be committed ambassadors for our beloved country.
Jacques Steyn CWM, Chair of the Institute of Cape Wine Masters
Established in 1983, The Institute of Cape Wine Masters is a dynamic and diverse group of professionals with a passion for wine and brandy and actively promotes wine and spirit education in South Africa as well as the growth and responsible use of wine. This is one of the most sought after academic qualifications in the South African Wine Industry.
Heidi Duminy CWM, Principal of the Cape Wine Academy
Founded in 1979, the Cape Wine Academy is recognised as the official wine education and training institution and was the first body to present certified wine courses in all regions of South Africa.
Andrea Mullineux, Chair of the Cape Winemakers Guild
Formed in 1982, the Guild, an association of some of South Africa’s finest winemakers has evolved into a body of 46 members who jointly represent the pinnacle of South African wine achievement.
Raymond Ndlovu, Chair of the Cape Wine Auction Trust
Since 2014, the Cape Wine Auction Trust mandate is to support education in the South African Winelands. It funds passionate, well-managed beneficiaries in the field of education and support them to maximise the value of the funding they are given.