South Australian regional wine associations are disappointed about the blanket cellar door closure announced yesterday, but also acknowledge that it is the right thing to do in protecting the broader community from the spread of the coronavirus.
Lian Jaensch, executive officer of Langhorne Creek Grape & Wine, says the move has not raised undue angst from the region.
“The cellar doors closing was not unexpected in response to impacts in the Barossa and Coonawarra,” Lian says.
“Langhorne Creek cellar doors had all already closed to tasting and sampling and were selling entirely online with deliveries, or else selling from the door but with strict protocols in place around purchasing and dwelling on premises and the like.
“I believe it is a responsible measure to kerb uncontrolled and deemed ‘unnecessary’ movements of people leading into a public holiday break (Easter) and help manage the crisis.
“This will protect communities, staff and the general public but importantly does not impact the continuing vintage and likely will help protect it.”
Lian says cellar doors are eager to protect their staff and the public, and contribute to the solution.
“With vintage still underway the potential for adverse impact from exposure of cellar door staff then onto staff in wineries and vineyard work is also reduced for many businesses – depending on their structure,” Lian says.
“A key necessity has been making sure our members are promptly and widely informed of clear directives as they arise so they know they are doing the right thing at the right time.
“In this respect we are fortunate to be a well-represented industry at local, state and federal levels.”
James March, chief executive of the Barossa Grape & Wine Association says, “It is disappointing to see any sales channels for our wineries limited.
“However, these are not normal circumstances, and we need to support the government in their decisions to try and limit the spread of the virus.
“Cellar doors are just one of the distribution channels wineries use to reach consumers, so those with well-established communication channels with a connected database will focus their attention here.”
Jennifer Linch, McLaren Vale Grape Wine & Tourism Association says, “It’s a very challenging and uncertain time for all businesses in-region and our broader community, but understandably, the measures are enforced to keep both our region’s businesses and visitors safe and well.
“A ‘new normal’ will be realised and we are looking forward to getting back to doing what we do best – welcoming visitors to McLaren Vale with generous hospitality and immersive tourism experiences, even if we are limited to virtual hospitality and experiences in the short term.
“We are working with our members to explore sustainable and alternative commercial solutions and relentlessly advocating to enable Vintage 2020 to continue without interruption.”
Kerry Treuel, executive officer of the Adelaide Hills Wine Region says the move is yet another blow for local wineries.
“Obviously the announcement is disappointing,” she says.
“It’s a tough time for many in the wine industry, especially for us in the Adelaide Hills as we are still dealing daily with the recovery efforts of the recent fires and being able to sell wine and produce direct from cellar doors for takeaway was a small lifeline for some.
“At the end of day, every industry, every sector throughout the world is having to do their bit in the fight against COVID-19 but this latest direction which relates to cellar doors doesn’t align with what is being allowed throughout the rest of the state at restaurants, cafes and hotels and it is seen by many as slightly contradictory.
“Thankfully deliveries are still available and we encourage everyone who is purchasing wine over the coming weeks, months to do so directly from their favourite producers.
“It will go a long way in helping the industry survive through these very uncertain times.”
Olivia James, executive officer of Coonawarra Vignerons, says, “Our wineries had progressively closed as a proactive measure prior to last night’s restriction.
“We are supportive of these measures to stop the spread.
“It would be great if we can focus attention in purchasing wine direct from wineries online.
“Now more than ever wineries need this support.
“We have had some wineries host virtual tastings and we look forward to seeing more of these offerings as we navigate this period.”
Lucy O’Brien, general manager of the Clare Valley Wine & Grape Association says, “These are very challenging times for our region with cashflow already impacted by a two-year drought and now COVID-19 impacting on cellar doors.
“However, it is the only responsible thing to do for the safety of our community and visitors to the region.
“Cellar doors are not the only businesses that have had to make significant adjustments to the way they are doing business.
“We are all in this together.”
Meanwhile vintage continues in South Australia despite the cellar doors being closed.
Lisa Bennier, business manager for Wine Grape Council South Australia, says, “Wineries are open to receive grapes and operate with all the COVID-19 restrictions in place.”