Over 30 wine farms already have closed due to a tourist that tested positive for Covid-19 – but the harvest continues – and you can support the industry from your home.
Wine estates Delheim and La Motte were the first to announce that they are temporarily shutting down tourism operations due to a visitor that has since tested positive for Covid-19.
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Since then, more farms announced temporarily shutting down tourist and tasting options. Some of the estates that have closed due to visits by the Dutch tourist group include Delheim, Leeu Estates, Uitsig, Steenberg, Almenkerk Wine Estate, Anthonij Rupert Wines, L’Ormarins Estate, Kanonkop and Bosman Family Vineyards.
On Monday a statement from Delheim explained what happened: “On Sunday, 15 March, we were informed that some of the members of the Dutch group have now been tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. We immediately informed and briefed all staff, whilst implementing a two-week self-isolation period for the staff members who came in contact with these foreigners.
“Taking all necessary precautions, we then also cancelled a large group booking for lunch on the day.
“The five staff members have since been in contact with their doctors who advised them to only take precautionary self-isolation for now and to only be tested should they be showing signs of the virus. To date, all staff are healthy and showing no symptoms. As transparency is key, we’ll update you should the situation change
“To take further precautions and to limit any potential exposure to infection – for both guests and staff – we can confirm that our hospitality sector of the business (restaurant, picnic area and wine tasting facilities) will be closed until 27 March, whereafter we will reassess the situation.”
Other farms not visited by the tour group like Klein Constantia and Graham Beck also closed their doors temporarily.
One of the farms, Kleine Zalze, announced today they would be closing for the time being. This in the same week it was announced as a world leader in wines.
Mundus Vini – one of the foremost wine competitions in Germany and with broad global recognition – selected Kleine Zalze as Best Producer: South Africa. The announcement was made following the Stellenbosch estate’s excellent performance at the event’s 26th instalment and its annual Spring Tasting.
The accolades included six gold medals. These comprised four Kleine Zalze Vineyard Selection wines, the Chenin Blanc 2019, Chardonnay 2019, Sauvignon Blanc 2019 and Shiraz 2017. Gold also went to two Family Reserve wines, the Shiraz 2016 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2016.
To top it all, the premier award of Best of Show South Africa Red went to the 2016 Kleine Zalze Family Reserve Shiraz and of course then the big announcement of Best Producer: South Africa.
“We have sensitised our staff on the regulations as set out by President Ramaphosa and have implemented certain measures to prevent and curb the spread of Covid-19 in the Vinpro Group’s own environment, which includes Vinpro, Vititec and WineMS,” said Vinpro MD Rico Basson.
Many farms, such as the award-winning Wildekrans, have been offering home delivery and big discounts on their wines too.
“Not only are we going to deliver to your chosen destination, but we would also like to offer you 20% off our normal retail price.”
Vinpro encouraged members to act with caution in their businesses according to the national guidelines, within the context of their own environment. This included ensuring the safety of employees, clients and visitors to wine tourism destinations.
Leaders from the agricultural and agri-processing industries would meet with government in the course of today to discuss and plan for the mitigation of the effects of the global and local measures that had now been instituted.
Vinpro has obtained feedback and communicated concerns from winery members to Agbiz, who will take part in these discussions on behalf of the wine and other agri-processing industries.
“We are committed to communicating any decisions or plans flowing from these discussions to our members as and when it becomes available,” Basson says.
“We realise that this is a challenging time for our members and their employees. We would like to call on our members to remain calm, equip themselves with objective, factual information, to put contingency plans in place and try to change their way of doing business to adapt to the new circumstances. We will continuously communicate any future developments,” Basson said.
But it’s not all gloom and doom for closed farms. It’s currently harvest season, and one popular winemaker, ex-Springbok rugby player Kwagga Boucher, tweeted yesterday that they needed help with the harvest at Ataraxia Wines in the Hemel-and-Aarde valley.
His tweet read: “If there is [sic] any people out there struggling through this time where they aren’t allowed to work and can’t make any money. Please don’t hesitate to give me a call. I need help with the harvest.”
If there is any people out there struggling through this time where they aren't allowed to work and can't make any money. Please don't hesitate to give me a call.
I need help with the harvest.
— Kwagga Boucher (@KwaggaBoucher) March 18, 2020
Kleine Zalze also confirmed their harvest was still ongoing.
Many wine farms are currently running offers to still make ends meet, such as free delivery on certain orders or ranges.