Nasty Image Returns to Haunt Wine Industry

Chateau Haut Kop, anyone?
Chateau Haut Kop, anyone?

Restless natives may be embraced by the PC brigade, novelists and German sex tourists, but they can be such a damn hindrance.
Speaking to my wine retailer mate who runs a wine shop in Mill Hill, London, he said that it would appear as if South Africa’s image is currently being tarnished by a bit of aforementioned restless nativeness.
“When it comes to wine, you are dealing with a very personal product,” my mate said. “People are very sensitive towards the reputation of a wine’s country of origin. Last year a female vineyard worker died in a Californian vineyard due to heat exhaustion, and my sales of Napa dropped for six weeks. Eastern Europe is churning out some great stuff from Russia, Rumania and Estonia, but wine drinkers are not partial towards countries seemingly run by a bunch of oil grabbing Mafia and escord girls.”
So, what’s the deal with South Africa?
“Don’t you guys have Sky TV?” he tells me. “The other day we turned on the TV and saw a horde of people running through the streets of Cape Town smashing car windows and throwing rubbish everywhere. And if this is how things look in Cape Town, people are asking what the rest of the country looks like.
“Constant reports of trouble on the farms with labourers are also not doing you guys a lot of good. When taking customers to a shelf of South African wines, they are very keen to tell me things are not looking so good over there and that this affects their wine decisions.
“Look, I don’t have a psychological explanation for these customers views, but buying wine from Pierre the Red Nosed Frenchman riding a bicycle through a peaceful vineyard seems more appropriate than wine from a country where they throw fish heads in the street.”
Of course, we hope this changes during 2010, but even if they exude ignorance, opinions such as these cannot be ignored.

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