Bulk bottlers hit back with all guns blazing

Accolade must have laid on fur-lined helicopters to get the sacred cows of UK wine, Victoria Moore and Jancis Robinson, out to Bristol to their 720,000 bottles a day bottling facility.  The result: two incredible bulk stories on the same day in the Financial Times and Telegraph. It’s like the arrival of buses in London: nothing for ages and then along come two at the same time.

scb Bulk bottlers hit back with all guns blazing

But what an embarrassment for WOSA to have their Jo Wehring mooing on about the excellent quality of bulk bottled wine in the UK. “The monitoring of quality is now vastly more intricate. Bottled samples are sent back to the Wine & Spirits Board in South Africa who check that the chemical analysis of the product going to the consumer is the same as it was when it left the winery.”

Begging the question as to what happens to wine that dops the test. Poured into the sea? Not likely!

Jo did bravely make the point that bulk costs jobs in SA – even her own at WOSA as soon as producers realize they don’t need her or her colleagues to sell bulk – but the argument “if you’re not competitive you’re going to lose market share and that will also lead to a loss of jobs” is totally spurious. What about the whole rationale behind Fair Trade?  Should SA wine embrace child labour to drive costs down even further? When Vinpro get back from their Friday lunches at Laborie, perhaps they should suggest that WOSA focus on the ethical aspects of bulk wine. This could be something for WIETA to embrace.

The current battle for the soul of SA wine is vital and bulk is winning on every front. We now hear that bulk quality is better “Mark Jarman of Morrisons also points out that wine bulk-shipped across the equator is less prone to heat spoilage, as ‘the mass of liquid reduces the temperature variances. This is particularly helpful if a ship is held up in port in the Far East.’ ” Bulk has already won the economic battle and now it looks set to win the quality argument, too. Terroiristes are about to lose the whole war unless they wake up and smell the coffee.