Good news in the pipeline for winery cellar doors

Commercial | Print Article

November 2022

A new Bill has been drawn from the ballot in Parliament that, if enacted, will bring some positive news to wineries with cellar doors. After a few years of limited visitors and staffing shortages we are pleased to report on some good news for the industry. This article discusses the proposed legislation and the benefits to the hospitality industry.

In New Zealand we are fortunate to have a large number of incredible wineries with cellar doors. These are an attraction for locals and overseas visitors who are keen to visit and sample the amazing wines that we produce here in New Zealand.

However, an issue for those operating cellar doors is that under the current legislation (Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (Act)), winery cellar door operators are not allowed to charge visitors for the wine samples that they serve. This is seen to devalue the product, reduce profitability, and make visitors feel obliged to make a purchase to recognise the value they are receiving for the tasting.

Another issue is that the limited number of off-licence categories under the Act means that nearly all cellar door licences are granted under section 32(1)(b) which requires 85% of its revenue to come from off-licence sales. Several wineries have both a cellar door and a restaurant and therefore in order to meet the 85% threshold, a separate entity needs to be established to obtain the off-licence.

These issues have been recognised by National’s Viticulture spokesperson, MP Stuart Smith, and his bill to remedy the issues was drawn from the Members’ bills ballot on 22 September 2022.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Cellar Door Tasting) Amendment Bill (Bill) is now at the First Reading stage and if enacted it will:

  • define winery and winery cellar door;
  • enable wineries and operators of cellar doors to charge for samples of no more than 40mls; and
  • add a category of off-licence available to a winery holding an on-licence (similar to those available to hotels and taverns).

It is recognised that transitional provisions will need to be incorporated into the Bill to ensure that existing licence holders are also able to benefit from these changes if they are enacted.