L’Avenir Lockdown Diaries - Day 7

The sevenyear itch is a psychological term that suggests that happiness in a relationship declines after around year seven of a marriage. On the 7th day of lockdown, I am getting the sense that the novelty is starting to wear off and that boredom and frustration are settling in.

On a personal note, my garden is looking fabulous. All the plants that we bought to plant as part of our domestic sanity programme have now been planted and I’ve started with plant propagation attempts so that we can at least plant cuttings next week and beyond.

And I think it’s the “beyond” part that may be part of the itch. Everyone from the wine industry that I have spoken to recently (strictly telephonically, on Zoom or at a two metre distance, I should add), agree that the lockdown is likely to last longer than 21 days or that at least some of the restrictions will be maintained. This has happened in many of the countries that started with lockdowns or similar restrictions before South Africa. The uncertainty about what lies ahead is daunting and the 21 days becomes a marathon of which the finish line is likely to shift.

There have been a lot of pushbacks from consumers to relax the restrictions – or should I say full-on ban – that has been instated on alcohol. While wine is regarded as part of the essential goods basket in most countries, it seems to be the golden tax goose that is being slaughtered in South Africa. While I do recognise that alcohol can be linked to social ills that obviously need to be prevented during this time, I also believe that a glass of wine can also be one of those simple pleasures that make the isolation of being locked down more bearable  The industry bodies – Salba, Vinpro and Wosa – submitted a proposal to the South African Department of Trade and Industry yesterday, which basically requests that wine exports resume and that the ban on sales in the local market is reconsidered and relaxed.

Personally, I am hopeful that grocers (most notably Pick and Pay, Checkers and Spar) are allowed to sell wine in their stores again, before the end of the current 21 day period. However, South African supermarkets are only allowed to sell wine (not beer and spirits). Let’s hope that the brewers and distillers are not bitter (what pun?), if only wine gets a gap. And if it doesn’t, I’m particularly curious to see what this resourceful industry comes up with next.

The American psychiatrist and author of the book, The Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck said: “The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers”. The people in the South African wine business are indeed deeply uncomfortable, unhappy and unfulfilled, when we cannot do what we most enjoy: travel, present our wines, socialise and export every bottle as a proud ambassador of the quality that South Africa has to offer.

There’s a guy at Stellenbosch University that made hand sanitizer from bread  (https://bit.ly/3bLaeNW). How’s that for Corona-19 era alchemy! Closer to lockdown home, I had the opportunity to dust off my guitar (www.facebook.com/EdoHeyns). Here’s to stepping out of our ruts and searching for different ways and truer answers. Enjoy the rest of the Day 7 and if the itch becomes unbearable, join me and my family for a virtual game drive in Kruger National Park this afternoon (https://bit.ly/39DHV2G)!

Dr Edo Heyns, Advini South Africa Strategic Development Manager