BOTTLE NECK WOES: Expensive business.
Winemakers say one of the industries that has made South Africa well-known overseas is on the verge of collapsing due to the high prices of bottling in the country.
They say this is the result of a bottling monopoly enjoyed by two major companies.
The wine industry is feeling the pinch so much that “some wine estates are being sold” and most of them bottle their wines overseas because it is cheaper to do so there than here.
This could result in the country losing millions of rands in revenue and jobs if nothing was done to save the industry, said wine estate owners.
Speaking at The Wine Show in Durban, which ran from November 23 to 25, several wine estate owners complained of a monopoly in the bottling industry, saying the companies currently responsible for bottling have even thwarted efforts to import affordable bottles from China.
Kosie Moller, who owns Klein Parys Vineyards with his family, said excessive excise duties are also threatening to ruin the industry.
“Some of us are shipping the wine un-bottled and giving the bottling job to guys overseas and then send it to our customers because it’s cheaper to do so there. Bottle prices are ridiculously high here and if you decide to bottle the wine here you will lose,” Moller said.
“We also need support from the state,” he added.
Alkie van der Merwe of Ma’or’s Hill Winery from the Western Cape added that the rand’s strength is adding salt is worsening the situation.
“And the strength of the rand isn’t helping. We’re asking the state to support us,” said Van der Merwe. As result of overseas bottling, Van Der Merwe said one bottling company in Stellenbosch had closed down and hundreds of people have lost their jobs.