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Just Another Challenge For Battle-Hardened Wineries

By Thursday 19 November 2020No Comments

Cellar doors in South Australia are closed as the State enforces a hard lockdown for six days to try to contain a Covid-19 cluster in the northern and western suburbs.

It’s yet another setback for cellar doors who had been reporting brisk business – record numbers, in some cases – with no international travel meaning travellers have been spending money in the regions.

South Australian winemakers are philosophical about the lockdown and generally support it.

Travis Fuller, general manager of Kilikanoon in Clare, describes the lockdown as a “tough time” for South Australia and for Clare.

“Having had record numbers of visitors in the past few months, we are all now bunkering down to ensure we and our customers are safe,” he says.

“We love the personal interaction so that’s hard not to have cellar door open.

“We hope it will be a swift and successful lockdown for our industry, our staff and our customers.”

“We have had such a privileged run in South Australia,” Chapel Hill general manager Michael Fragos says.

“I do personally agree with the go-hard early response as hopefully this will lead to getting the situation under control quickly and avoiding a longer lockdown.

“It is fortunate timing for us as this afternoon, we were able to pack things away in the cellar and there are only a few operations to keep on top of in the vineyard.

“We were just starting to get a nice flow of visitors at cellar door from Queensland and NSW, it will be interesting to see what transpires with interstate travel and hopefully borders are not closed for too long and that visitors don’t get spooked.

“I have been talking to friends in India and they are telling me that Covid-infected people are isolating in trees to keep their families safe and this reminds how lucky we are.”

Wirra Wirra CEO Andrew Kay says, “Like all Spurrier-fearing South Australians, we support the need to jump on this latest outbreak quickly to avoid wave number two.

“The afternoon saw a frantic quest to rid Harry’s Deli of all perishables – much of which seemed to disappear into the boot of the CFO’s car – and plan for the week ahead.

“With cellar door and the café closed, we revert back to online orders only for direct sales, but fortunately SA retail and the rest of the country remain open for business.

“The winery is running with a few staff to ensure essential operations to maintain wine quality and integrity.

“I feel for the on-premise folks and their suppliers who have just managed to get up and running and would have been sadly cancelling orders and managing food waste yesterday.

“We remain hopeful of a quick return to pre-Parafield conditions, an Adelaide Test Match in December and a roaring Christmas trade for the food and wine community.”

Malcolm Leask of Hither & Yon in McLaren Vale says business will keep ticking along.

“We’re fine here, we’re not worried about business at all,” he says.

“We have many bows and great partners out there… things will keep ticking along.

“It’s going to be busy, tending vines, sending boxes, feeding animals but, most importantly, looking after our people and community.”

Anne Gibson of Gibson Barossa agrees with the lockdown “even though it is inconvenient to our lives”.

“The hopeful outcome is getting on top of everything before it gets out of hand,” she says.

“Our staff are working from home and will continue to be in touch with our customers.

“We have bottling of some of our wines scheduled this week which is permitted to go ahead so we are certainly happy about.”

There are currently 35 active cases of coronavirus in South Australia. Two of them are in hospital.

Agriculture is not affected by the “circuit breaker” as the State Government is calling it, and vineyard work can continue.

Transport and delivery services remain open.

The lockdown is expected to produce another online wine buying frenzy, especially with Christmas fast approaching.

The hospitality sector has also been thrown into turmoil again with restaurants, pubs and cafes closing.

Takeaway food outlets are also part of the temporary ban and a lot of food is going to waste.

South Australians, essential workers excluded, are confined to their homes apart from visiting supermarkets once a day and accessing medical services.

Cellar doors in South Australia were part of the initial lockdown in April but reopened in time for the June long weekend.

This latest lockdown could extend beyond six days depending on the case numbers.

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