The headline in yesterday’s Business Day “Foreigners to be barred from owning land in South Africa” was yet another nail in the coffin of SA wine. BDay reports “Foreign nationals will no longer be able to own land in South Africa once the government’s land policy is finalised and passed into law, Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti (pictured below) said on Tuesday” and quotes the minister’s response to a question during a “dialogue” with farm workers in Paarl. “All people who are foreign nationals will not own land, but will lease land on a long-term basis.”
Meanwhile, some of the most progressive farmers who make some of the finest wine in SA – I’m thinking of elegant Italian Giulio Bertrand at Morgenster and flying Dutchman Fons Aaldering who from his eponymous wine estate in Devon Valley has done more to promote Pinotage overseas than anyone else – are foreign nationals. Elgin is full of English internet and financial moguls losing their fortunes making fine wine and uplifting locals in the process.
But where is the uproar from the industry? Where is the response from WOSA, who are increasingly looking like the Rip van Winkels of wine marketing? For what is the point of spending R35 million to punt SA wine overseas when the spectre of Zimbabwe is being summonsed from the deep, like a latter-day Adamastor, by cynical ANC politicians with an eye on the main chance and electoral support in the DA controlled Western Cape. Wat sê Vinpro and all the other highly paid mouthpieces? The silence is deafening.