“The hospitality industry in the Overstrand has shown itself to be able to innovate, transform, refresh and persevere during the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Frieda Lloyd, Tourism Manager of the Cape Whale Coast.
According to her the region has been fortunate enough to have very few hospitality businesses close their doors. This follows reports that the South African wine industry has lost an estimated R7,5 billion during the lockdown, while shedding 21 000 jobs. In the greater Cape Town area, an estimated 60% percent of restaurants were forced to close, resulting in thousands of lost job opportunities.
“Very few restaurants and no wine farms in our region have closed down. In fact, several restaurants have expanded or found new markets for their products. This goes to show what a strong brand the local hospitality industry has built up over the years,” Lloyd said.
Maryna Calow, Marketing Manager of Wines of South Africa (Wosa) said it is expected that up to 80 wine producers may be forced to close their doors and that there is now a surplus of 300 million litres of wine, a third of South Africa’s total annual production.
“Wine producers with excess stock are left between a rock and a hard place as current wine sales are not enough to get rid of the surplus. This while preparations must start in earnest for the next harvest. These producers are left with very few options, including using the excess for juice concentrate, making sanitiser or using the wine for the distilling of spirits, none of which are as profitable as the wines in the barrels,” said Calow.
She added that local wine sales remain depressed, but on the upside, exports have been on a par with previous years. “Wine producers are however still struggling to move stock at their cellar doors. While there are many local visitors over weekends, cellars are still not allowed to do wine sales and that has a huge negative impact. It is time for the hospitality industry to focus on getting the Government to allow for wine sales over weekends,” she said.
Gerrie Heyneke of Hermanuspietersfontein said they are cautiously optimistic about the industry at this stage. “We put a lot of hard work into promoting our brand online from shortly before the lockdown started. Now we sell more wine online than we do through any of our other sales channels,” he said.
According to him wine sales in the Overberg and Cape Town are slow. “Although the cellar is busy over weekends, we have seen a general decline in sales.”
Carolyn Martin of Creation Wines echoed this sentiment. “While local sales are down, we are fortunate enough to have opened new sales channels online, especially in Europe. During the lockdown we opened online stores in Switzerland and the UK, and they are doing very well. We have also increased our footprint in Belgium, North America and Singapore,” she said.
She does warn, however, that the industry is not out of the woods yet. “There are reports of cellars having a rough time moving stock to try and make space for the upcoming harvest. It would not be a surprise if we see some cellars closing over the next few months. In Hemel-en-Aarde, however, we are fortunate enough to have had an exceptional harvest that has produced award-winning wines, and that has helped sales in the region,” she said.