Saai (Southern African Agri Initiative) has launched its wine marketing project, The Wine Farmer, on the Marianne Wine Estate at Stellenbosch on 22 October 2020. The Wine Farmer is a online wine shop aimed at making family farm wines available to consumers across South Africa at cellar door prices. 

“During levels 4 and 3 of the lockdown period, Saai represented more than 220 wine farmers in a court case against Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and others to lift the ban on wine sales, because this ban was causing tremendous harm to the industry. The Wine Farmer is the second half of our initiative to help family wine farmers get their industry going again,” says Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai. 

Damage to the wine industry during the seven months since the lockdown was announced stands at R7,5 billion. The wine surplus is estimated at almost 400 million litres, which is more than South Africa’s annual local consumption. 

Saai is seriously concerned about the thousands of hectares of vineyards being threatened and that up to 80 family farms may be lost. “Some of the oldest family farms in our country are in the Western Cape. For us as a network structure for family farmers it is critically important to keep these farmers on their farms. These farms are not only wine farms – in most cases there also are a restaurant and accommodation on the farm, which creates a large number of job opportunities – especially in the rural areas, where such opportunities are sorely needed. Furthermore, it is a tourism attraction peculiar to the Boland and the Western Cape,” says Dr Theo de Jager, board chairman of Saai. 

Aggressive marketing of wine can go much further than countering the destructive impact of irrational COVID-19 regulations and may help getting rid of wine surpluses. It can also maintain employment opportunities, keep farmers on their farms and salvage the region’s economy. 

Whereas the authorities have done absolutely nothing so far to solve the self-made crisis, wine farm families must use the best digital and marketing technology to restore the industry. 

Initially, The Wine Farmer will list the products of 10 wine farms on the website, and thereafter more farms will be added every week. 

“This platform gives every consumer access to wines that are not necessarily available locally. It also cuts out the middleman, resulting in more value in the wine farmer’s pocket,” says Kwagga Boucher, winemaker and CEO of The Wine Farmer. 

“This website is more than just a wine store. Every winemaker now has a platform to tell the story of the farm and sketch the background of the wines. You cannot visit a family wine farm in the Cape every day, but The Wine Farmer makes it possible for you to enjoy a family wine at home every day,” Boucher adds. 

The Wine Farmer is available at www.thewinefarmer.co.za.

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