The South African wine industry is an engine of transformation, don't switch it off

Friday, 15 January, 2021
Wines of South Africa, Malu Lambert
Alert Level 3 in South Africa has been indefinitely extended, which continues to prohibit the domestic sale of any alcoholic drink for on- and off-consumption. This means our wine region is effectively shuttered, with wide-ranging consequences not only for producers but also for the tourism and hospitality industries as a whole.
But this is not just about business; this ban directly effects upliftment programmes as well as NGOs whose sole reason for existence is to work within the Cape winelands to bring about change. Banning the sale of wine, means taking away funds from organisations actively making a difference in disadvantaged communities. 
Wine can be a tool for good, a conduit for transformation. created the #wineforgood website in June 2016 as a place to host all the positive stories from the South African wine industry, and includes everything from feeding schemes, education, housing and more – the examples are manifold.
One such organisation is the Pebbles Project. Pebbles supports the education of children living in farm worker communities (wine and fruit) through each phase of their life from pre-birth through to the age of 24.  The non-profit provides educational programmes as well as nutrition, health and social support services to approximately 1400 children in Stellenbosch, Somerset West, Wellington, Citrusdal and Hermanus. Their programmes include antenatal support for pregnant women, First Thousand Days, Early Childhood Development, School Enrichment and Early Adulthood as well as opening its first school in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley in 2019 for 63 learners from the local farm communities.  Other services and activities include a mobile resource centre, a fleet of mobile learning centres, computers, sport, art and life skills. 
“There is a huge amount of good work being done in the wine industry, either through initiatives put in place by individual farm owners or through their support of local non-profit organisations such as Pebbles,” shared Director Sophia Warner.
“We fear that the continued alcohol sales ban could have a deeply negative effect on the livelihoods of the farm owners and farm workers, and consequently the educational success of their children.  It could also have a hugely detrimental effect on non-profit organisations, such as Pebbles, working in the wine industry as a result of reduced financial support.
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