Charging a tasting fee - legal or not?

Monday, 14 May, 2012
Cluver Markotter Incorporated
Although many wine estates charge a fee for wine tasting very few are aware that the Liquor Act under which their liquor licenses were issued did not allow them to do so.
In terms of the 1989 Liquor Act which was applicable in the Western Cape until the 31st of March 2012, the approval which allowed wineries to offer wine for tasting stated that the wine had to be offered free of charge.

From the 1st of April, the Western Cape Liquor Act replaced the 1989 Act in the Western Cape.

In terms of this new Act, the Liquor Board is entitled to grant an approval to offer wine for tasting and to charge a tasting fee.

According to Danie Cronjé, the Director of Liquor Law Services at Cluver Markotter Incorporated, however, this does not mean that wineries are now automatically entitled to charge a tasting fee.

In terms of the new Act, the conditions of existing liquor licenses remain applicable therefore tasting must still be free of charge unless the license holder applies for the amendment of its license conditions to allow for charging a tasting fee.

According to Cronjé a number of wineries had enquired whether it was legal to charge a tasting fee since some SAPS Liquor Officers had recently informed wineries that under the new Act they are not allowed to charge a fee for tasting.

“Wineries which do not amend their license conditions may be charged with contravening their license conditions by Liquor Officers inspecting premises for compliance with the Act.”