A lifeline could soon be available for South Australian wine businesses threatened by natural and other disasters.
Proposed changes to the state’s Liquor Licensing Act will allow disaster-struck producers to buy fruit and wine from other producers and to make and sell the wine under their own labels.
Disasters include crop failure caused by drought, pest plagues, disease, bushfires or by irrigation water crises.
The changes will allow producers to apply for exemption from the law which says that ‘a substantial proportion’ of blended wine must be their own.
‘This will allow producers to continue to operate, reducing the financial and other impacts of the circumstances on wine production,’ the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gail Gago, said.
The amount of wine that could be produced or bought under the exemption would be limited to the producer’s own production capacity.
Ms Gago has also introduced amendments to the Act to liberalise the licensing system for the state’s 620 wineries which produce about 42% of Australia’s wine.
The changes are aimed at cutting red tape and are estimated to save producers an estimated AUD$4m.
At present, producers need a separate licence for each cellar door and venues such as restaurants, farmer markets and wine tastings including comparative tastings involving other producers’ wines.
A single licence, restricted to the region in which the winery is located, will now cover all venues.
Cellar door outlets will be limited to one at a producer’s winery and one elsewhere including a collective cellar door with other producers.
‘It will save costs and give opportunities for some businesses to get into the market in a cellar door for example where they might think going it alone wouldn’t work,’ the chief executive of the SA Wine Industry Association, Brian Smedley, said.
Footnote: Ms Gago’s husband is Penfold’s chief winemaker, Peter Gago.
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Written by Chris Snow in Adelaide