Reopen Victorian cellar doors

By Steve Kelly

The King Valley wine industry has asked the Victorian state government to clarify the lifting of cellar door restrictions.

Wine tastings could be on the cards over the Queen’s Birthday weekend if restrictions on cellar doors are lifted alongside other hospitality businesses such as restaurants by June 1.

When COVID-19 restriction modifications were announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday, the humble cellar door was left off the list and the region’s key wine body is asking why.

Gary Van Dijk and Gini Van Dijk are in readiness for people to start arriving after COVID-19 restrictions for self-contained amenities are lifted next Monday. Photo: Kieren Tilly


Wines of the King Valley executive marketing officer Alison Lloyd is hoping the omission of cellar doors was an oversight and that the issue will be cleared up by the end of this week.

The association, which acts on behalf of several King Valley wineries, has contacted the Victorian Government, however, no clarification had been received as of yesterday afternoon.

“At the moment we cannot open our cellar doors yet and we don’t know if we might be able to.

“While all the cafes and restaurants might be able to reopen at the moment, cellar doors have not been included in that.

“It’s in a watch and see situation and it seems pretty ridiculous that a restaurant can reopen but a cellar door is not able to.

“We’re hoping that in their haste they have overlooked clarifying that we can and we thought the problem would be cleared up pretty quickly but at the moment it would still be illegal to open.”

If the cellar doors were to reopen in time for the long weekend from June 6 to 8 there would be capacity limits per venue, distancing and sanitising requirements that need to be met.

The Weekend Fit for a King was cancelled in March, however, with tourists allowed to visit the King Valley from next Monday, the scope of entertainment will be largely reduced without access to wineries.

To maintain some sales volume, local wineries have been selling produce through Coles and Woolworths where some might not have before.Active marketing and selling of products online or direct to consumers via deliveries through wine clubs has also kept businesses active during the widespread crisis.

With the uncertainty surrounding the cellar doors, other tourism based businesses such as accommodation have been left wondering.

Nevertheless Gini Van Dijk, who is the manager of the Painters Island, said they have 18 cabins that are self- sufficient with shower and toilet, which meets the government restriction on communal amenities.

She has started to take bookings for the Queen’s Birthday weekend despite the uncertainty about wineries.

Over the last few months the park has been booking out cabins to essential workers and others stranded in Wangaratta, and Mrs Van Dijk said they all want to go home when borders reopen.

“We only have a few essential workers and we have quite a few bookings for the Queen’s Birthday weekend and not many have cancelled yet,” she said.

A government spokesperson said they are constantly reviewing the level of restrictions required to slow the spread of coronavirus.

“We have been open and transparent in all the decisions we’ve made regarding restrictions and if anything changes, the Victorian community will be the first to know,” he said.

This article was originally published in the online Wangaratta Chronicle, and is republished with permission.

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