Coronavirus and SA wine: Paul Clüver Jnr of Paul Cluver Estate Wines
By Christian Eedes, 25 May 2020
The current conversation around Coronavirus and its effect on the South African wine industry is perhaps inevitably very emotionally charged.
We put the same set of questions to a variety of industry stakeholders with a view to obtaining a better understanding of what’s happening on the ground and also plotting a way forward. Here is how Paul Clüver Jnr of Paul Cluver Estate Wines in Elgin replied:
How badly has Coronavirus crisis impacted your business?
The Coronavirus, or rather the regulations because of the virus, has had a significant impact on our business. While exports were momentarily impacted the protracted ban on local sales has been severe.
How many wineries do you foresee closing as a result of the pandemic? What future for growers?
This is hard to say. The industry has been exposed to a couple of years of adverse conditions. First the drought and now this. This is like kicking someone while they are down. What is clear is that there will be casualties, but how many will depend on how long the current ban on sales will last [wine may be sold for home consumption from 1 June under Level 3 of the government alert system].
What plans do you have in place to get going again once restrictions are eased? How will doing business be different?
Our focus will be on working together with the trade and tourism industry. There is no doubt that the recovery in the on-trade will be much slower than the off-trade with a focus on online sales. We will have to do more than just act in our own self-interest, but rather play a positive role in helping the industry recover. The wine industry, especially high-end wine,s are so integrally connected with the tourism, restaurant and hotel industries that we cannot expect a full recovery without them also recovering. We are in this together.
What will the South African wine landscape look like after the pandemic? Will the industry recover quickly or will it be changed forever?
There will definitely be some permanent shifts. For one, people will become more accustomed to buying their wines online. There will also be winners and losers during this time of adversity, but at the end of the day there will still be wine. As for producers who are only producing grapes with the option to go into alternative products like soft citrus which are more profitable, they will probably migrate faster to those crops.
Read other interviews:
Chris Alheit of Alheit Vineyards
Tertius Boshoff of Stellenrust
Boela Gerber of Groot Constantia
Gerard Holden of Holden Manz
Johan Kruger of Kruger Family Wines
Bruwer Raats of Raats Family Wines
Donovan Rall of Rall Wines
Mike Ratcliffe of Vilafonté
Johan Reyneke of Reyneke Wines
David Sadie of David & Nadia
Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Wines
Lukas van Loggerenberg of Van Loggerenberg Wines
Michael White of Highlands Road