“SA Government withdraws controversial supermarket wine sale proposal”
This was just one headline many of you would have seen in the week. For those of you who might not have heard the news, the SA Government has decided NOT to allow the supply/sale of wine in supermarkets.
For me, a wine lover and consumer, I initially thought the idea of being able to buy my wine with my fruit and veg was great. The convenience of a 1 stop shop sounded like my kind of plan. But then I sat down and read the articles, I asked my fellow wine colleagues/friends their thoughts and it became clear that for now, it was a good decision to scrap the idea.
The for and against for this plan has played out for many months now. You ask your local, independent bottle shop what they thought and it’s almost always “it will destroy us”. You ask the smaller supermarket owners (Foodland etc.) what they thought and it was welcomed with open arms. The media told the story of how the local wine industry was against it completely but I feel many had different opinions to what we were led to believe.
I spoke with a local winemaker in the Barossa about the news that plans had been scrapped and they were almost a 50/50 split of for and against. Like me, as a consumer, they liked the convenience the plan would bring. And even as a winemaker themselves, they didn’t believe it would really hurt the industry. We both agreed it needed more concise and forward planning to avoid the major chains taking over and destroying the little guys, but we are still not against the idea all together.
Some flaws we saw in the plan were: supermarkets do not have the expertise to sell wine. By this we mean, sometimes you actually want to be educated when buying a bottle, not just pick it by the label.Walk into any smaller/independent bottle shop and I can almost guarantee the shop attendant will not only take the time to describe a wine but they will actually know what they are talking about. We also, like most who were against the idea, could see that whilst the Govt had intentions of the plan helping the SA wine industry, given that most of the major supermarket chains are owned by interstate/international companies, it was a strong chance they would not be loyal and buy mostly SA wine. Whilst it is nice to have a large range of choice, we have some of the best wine regions in the world and it would be a shame for these local wineries to be over looked in their own state.
We also saw the positives about the proposed plan. Again, the convenience of being able to buy your wine with your weekly shop. Some of you may have travelled before and found that many countries already allow the sale of alcohol in supermarkets. I know I have and it was so easy to just go to one shop and get all the ‘essentials’ for the holiday. We also noted that the plan was for the sale of wine only. They would not have license to sell beer, spirits of any other form of alcoholic beverage. This limited license would have little effect on pubs/hotels who had drive through/takeaway services.
All in all, everyone can stop worrying about the proposed plan, for now. I have no doubt it will be raised again in the future and perhaps people’s perceptions will have changed. For now, we will keep making that trip to our favourite bottle shop for our favourite drop of wine.
A little wine between friends!