SOUTH AFRICA – In the wake of the spread of the corona virus, the R47 billion(US$2.5 billion) wine industry has unfortunately been affected by the current crisis and restrictions resulting from the national lockdown.

However, recovery measures put in place seems to ensure the industry get back on track with the South African government set to inject R6 billion (US$321m) as short-term assistance.

In addition to that, wine producers are now able to operate and export under the Level 4 lockdown.

Mynard Slabbert, the co-owner and Head of Business Development at the Michelangelo International Wine & Spirits Awards, said, “We are thrilled that the industry will be allowed to export its stock. Not only will this help to save jobs but will also enable the industry to contribute to the country’s ailing economy.”

Additionally, thanks to lobbying from Vinpro, the South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (Salba) and the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA), on behalf of the liquor industry, payment of excise duties due in May and June would be deferred by 90 days for excise compliant businesses.

According to an IOL report, this dispensation was requested to relieve financial pressure on cash-flow due to a lack of revenue in the local market during the lockdown period.

Even with the current situation, the industry has come to the fore-front with solutions to keep their operations going.

For instance, with consumers currently unable to visit tasting rooms, some well-known wine farms and personalities have launched innovative ways to engage with their customers via virtual wine tastings.

Online tastings have been held all over social media by the likes of Cap Classique, Delheim Wines, Simonsig, Waterford, Avondale and Baleia Wines, offering consumers the perfect opportunity to become oenologists and make more educated buying decisions in the future.

Slabbert said, “We are hoping that these initiatives will keep consumers excited and engaged with local producers.”

“It is inspiring to see how South African producers are being proactive about the situation and taking matters into their own hands. With the wine industry contributing 1.3 percent to the country’s GDP, it is imperative that we find innovative solutions to any problems so we can continue to attract investment,” said Slabbert.