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Wine listing fees: An example of a letter to producers

By , 23 February 2017



Wine listing fees charged by restaurants – at least distasteful if not outright illegal – continues unabated.

winemag.co.za condemns the practice and urges all wine producers to resist paying them while we will also continue to expose restaurants who solicit such fees – the only way the situation is going to be addressed is to continue to bring it to the public’s attention.

Jamie Oliver, owner of Jamie's Italian restaurant chain.

Jamie Oliver, owner of Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain.

Jamie’s Italian is a worldwide restaurant brand owned by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the first South African branch having opened in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg last year with local hospitality group Whisky Creek Brands overseeing development.

winemag.co.za recently came into possession of a letter from Whisky Creek Brands to producers explicitly detailing their wine listing fees, available for download here: Breakdown of Costs

Asked for comment, group marketing manager Leanne van Wyk replied as follows: “Listing fees are a common practice in the restaurant industry and within the brands that I have worked for this has always been something that the wine suppliers and brand have agreed on.” To which we say: Just because everyone’s doing it, doesn’t make it right.

Read a previous guest post on the same subject here.


11 comment(s)

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    Kevin R | 25 February 2017

    Am 100% with the producers. Name and shame

    Jen Packard Weber | 24 February 2017

    Thank you so much for the attention you bring to this issue.

    As a small producer, we have refused to play this game in the domestic market. It is played not only in restaurants, but wine shops have their own “special” contracts and agreements that basically give the producer the shaft. The consequence of this type of behavior is that our wines are basically not available beyond the reaches of our estate.

    It is hard enough to break even handcrafting honest, high quality wine, let alone make a profit, and this is just one more way small producers are being kept away from the interested public.

    Neither producers nor consumers are well-served, and there is truly nothing quite as blissful as a well-curated, honest wine list.

    Jen, Johst, Tariro, Hildegard, Juergen and Susanne – and the rest of the Springfontein Crew

    David Clarke | 24 February 2017

    Very glad to see that the tide is turning against this practice.

      Christian | 24 February 2017

      Is the tide really turning? Too many producers who bleat about the iniquities of the practice while simultaneously acquiescing. Expose the restaurants. This is your platform.

        David Clarke | 27 February 2017

        Yes, I think so Christian. The war isn’t over by any stretch, but exposés like this help a lot. Very different rhetoric about this topic in the trade now than 4 years ago. Well done all.

    Kent | 24 February 2017

    Hasn’t Leanne van Wyk (and the brands she worked for…) won the award for the most boring wine list for the past 10 consecutive years running? I am pretty sure she has!

    Bachus | 24 February 2017

    Another reason not to patronise this chain of restaurants. If you read the Tripadvisor reviews of the UK branches of this franchise it sounds like you would do better at your local Panarottis at about half the price…

    Cathy van Zyl | 23 February 2017

    Listing fees = boring wine lists.

    Kwispedoor | 23 February 2017

    Perhaps you guys are too harsh. Perhaps the producers will get good value for their listing fees? Perhaps this place has a truly inventive wine list and a brilliant sommelier that can match your budget and your food with appropriate wine. Perhaps they always serve all wines at the correct temperatures, therefore having multiple wine fridges that are each set accordingly, taking into account factors like wine style and ambient temperatures. Perhaps they would be serving their wines in Zalto glasses and they will have older vintages at the ready, especially as their underground (or sparsely lit, temperature controlled) cellar reaches proper stock holding. Perhaps they will spend the extra listing fees for their by-the-glass wines on a solid Coravin system. And they don’t sound greedy at all so perhaps they will refuse to sell any wine at more than a 100% profit on their trade price. Yeah right…

    Of course restaurants have large overheads, but the profits on wine is sickening, considering the general shocking wine service and facilities on the flipside. Exceptions to the rule are few and far in between.

    And then we have farmers in the Swartland who are allowing sand mines on their properties because they say they get the same pitiful prices for their grapes as 13 years ago…

    Great job, Christian – keep naming and shaming. If this is such an accepted way of doing business, restaurants shouldn’t mind being called out on it. But please can we get all the “listing fee restaurant” names consolidated on one list? It’ll make it much easier for consumers to act.

    Mark | 23 February 2017

    So charging wineries for listing fees is ok, do you charge your butcher to sell his meat, the same with the fresh produce. I for one will not support or bother with this venture. That some restaurants should take time, effort and own expense to compile a wine list and this….

    angela lloyd | 23 February 2017

    Of course, Leanne, if the producers don’t agree, their wines won’t be listed. So don’t be so naive as to think anyone believes ‘the wine suppliers and the brand have agreed on.’

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