Today, exactly a year ago, the South African government lifted the 9-week long alcohol ban for the first time.
Can you remember the CHAOS that ensued? Queues outside liquor stores, panic buying, and of course, the total collapse of the national courier system under the incredible weight of the sheer amount of alcohol you all had ordered online.
We, like many other small wine farms, were completely blindsided by the number of orders streaming in, on one side so greatful for a revenue stream that had been so sorely missed the past few months, on the other side, warily eyeing out the backlog our couriers were accumulating.
On the farm’s end, we were quick – working 18 hour days to process and pack each order within two days of receipt. It was when the wine was collected by our couriers, that the wheels started to come off. After two weeks of broken promises and missed deadlines, we took matters into our own hands.
The rest is well documented history – we uplifted all the wine in Gauteng, got a new courier, and flew up to JHB ourselves to repack and re-dispatch each order, along with a complimentary case of Miss Lucy. It took us a week just to untangle the mess that we had on our hands, and another week more just to get the last of the lockdown orders to their rightful owners.
In Cape Town, we enlisted the help of dudes with vans, crowdsourced delivery drivers on Twitter, and rounded up students to help with our deliveries.
What have we learnt since then? Our parcels are now all individually labeled with barcoded stickers, and we now work with a courier that scans each parcel, every step of the way. We have upgraded our online system so that you now receive tracking information as soon as your wine has dispatched, and with one click you can now see exactly where your order is – no more phoning the farm for updates or us paging through 26 different ringbinders to find your order number!
What has stayed the same? Well, our hardworking team, for one, is still standing (after this time last year we were worried about a mass mutiny) and recognize almost every one of you by name when your order lands in our inboxes. Our prices have also stayed consistent, with no price increase in 2021 in solidarity with an industry and country already on a backfoot. Our courier fees have also stayed the same, despite the many upgrades and rising costs incurred – and we are still offering a 50% saving on our regular courier fees by absorbing half the costs for you, so that you can stay safe and shop from the comfort of your own home.
On a grey, miserable day like today, when one feels a bit hopeless in the face of a third wave, loadshedding and corruption, it is important to look back at where we were a year ago, and to recognize how far we have come despite it all.
That being said, infections are rising once again, and an alcohol ban is never off the cards – so make sure you are stocked up in time, this time around.