Ridiculous wine mark-ups

Cathy Marston relates unacceptable wine mark-ups to a simple' chicken and egg' theory...

22 Apr 2010

Restaurant ed. Cath Shone is running a very cool blog at the moment called Restaurant Referee dishing out ‘red cards’ to restaurants who are using the World Cup as an excuse to hike up prices and rip us all off. She has an interesting topic up there today about a waiter at a wine farm restaurant who charged some friends of hers a whopping 261% mark-up on a wine which they had been tasting only moments ago.

Now I’m not suggesting we get into the whole restaurant mark-ups/corkage debate here – perhaps we should save that one for a rainy day. No, what’s bothering me is the massive mark-up itself – this on a product which was manufactured only yards away, has had to go through no expensive distributors to get to the restaurant, hasn’t had to sit in costly storage facilities and for which the supply could surely be managed by the most cost-effective means on the planet (‘We’ve just run out of Chardonnay. Can you hold on a second sir whilst I pop next door and fetch one for you?’).

I find it totally unacceptable that a restaurant on a wine farm marks that farm’s wines up to the same level as a normal restaurant. To me, it’s like a ‘chicken and egg’ thing – is the restaurant getting business because people visited the winery or is the winery getting additional sales because people drank their wine with lunch? It ought to be a mutually beneficial relationship with both parties out to help each other and I find it wrong when people abuse their customers in this way.

Now it is sometimes the case that the restaurant isn’t actually owned by the wine farm but is independently leased out. But that still isn’t an excuse for charging normal mark-ups – make a plan!! If I drink a wine with my meal and enjoy it, guess where my next stop is after I’ve paid the bill? And with so many restaurants to choose from, do I need to trek 10km down an unmade farm track to eat lunch unless there’s another reason for me to do so. Not rocket science is it?

So I say ‘get your acts in gear, wine farm restaurants and sort it out’. Many have already done that and are either charging cellar door prices or a very small ‘corkage’ type fee and deserve to be commended for it – places such as Clos Malverne, Rust en Vrede, Dornier and The Duck Pond at Welmoed for example. But on the other extreme – let’s red card places such as Buitenverwachting, Jonkershuis at Groot Constantia  plus any others who treat their customers in this way. What do you think – and who do you know who’s not playing fair when it comes to mark-ups? Tell us all about it and see you on a good value wine farm soon.

PS:Check out all the wine farm specials that you can benefit from here!

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