Pernod Ricard could lose its entire 2019 vintage if the government closes down operations at vineyards during COVID-19.
Bryan Fry, chairman and chief executive of Pernod Ricard Winemakers, has warned that enforced shutdowns of vineyards would be hugely damaging to the wine industry.
“We are in the midst of vintage at our Barossa Valley winery and have put in place unprecedented measures to protect the health of our staff, suppliers and customers,” Fry told The Australian.
“Winemakers get one opportunity a year to produce wine. That time is now.
“Any decisions that result in our winery operations having to cease will result in the loss of an entire year’s worth of production.
“The impact on jobs and exports would be catastrophic across the industry, particularly in regional communities.
“The industry has just emerged from a summer that delivered an unholy trinity of drought, fire and smoke taint — unnecessary restrictions are the last thing we need. We understand and support more stringent health protections at this time — but the least governments can do is allow Australians to buy and enjoy a wine, beer or spirit with their families over dinner during such a difficult period.”
Pernod Ricard’s vineyards plea follows Lion and CUB calling on the government not to shut breweries during COVID-19.
Lion and CUB noted that shutting down brewery production could lead to a three-month beer shortage in Australia, as it is difficult to restart plants after they are turned off.
Lion Australia managing director James Brindley told the Australian Financial Review: “You can’t turn off and then quickly turn back on major breweries like Tooheys.
“After re-opening, there could be up to three months of no beer for pubs or bottle shops because it takes that long to grow the quantity of yeast needed.”
He added: “Our breweries are 100% able to operate under strict health and safety rules.”