Wine ruling ‘insane’
A couple who lost their battle to sell their award-winning fruit wines at North City Shopping Centre say the decision is ‘‘insane’’ and ‘‘lacking in common sense’’.
Damon Pratt and Alisha Phelps run Ruahine Wines, not far from Dannevirke. They applied for, and received, a special licence to sell their wine and port at North City throughout December – unopened, in gift packs – to help commemorate the winery’s first birthday, but this was appealed by police.
They had previously been granted a licence to run a stall in the mall for 12 days during the Rugby World Cup, but the December stall has been deemed an ‘‘event’’.
Senior Sergeant Steve Sargent said in his report to last Thursday’s Porirua City Council committee meeting that ‘‘ 24 days seems excessive for a birthday celebration’’, and the period ran contrary to what an event represented under the Sale of Liquor Act. What Ruahine Wines wanted to do required an off-licence, he concluded.
Mr Pratt and Ms Phelps spoke to councillors during public speaking time, pleading for an exception. They used dictionary definitions of what an event was, said PCC was ‘‘misapply- ing’’ the act and called the situation ‘‘extremely frustrating’’.
They face the same opposition to run a stall at The Plaza, in Palmerston North.
‘‘We are allowed to do tastings [which they did from December 1-7 in Porirua] but we can’t have an unopened bottle of wine. For people to use credit cards and order from our website, instead of paying cash or using eftpos, is insane. We’re not restricting the flow of traffic or encouraging drinking in public.’’
They produced letters of support from Wairarapa MP John Hayes, Tararua Mayor Roly Ellis and North City management.
Porirua City councillors made their decision in secret after the issue was moved into non-public business.
The council’s general manager of environment and regulatory services, David Rolfe, told KapiMana News afterwards that while the council was sympathetic towards the couple, its hands were tied.
The day after the council’s decision, Ms Phelps said the ‘‘massive rigmarole’’ was something the couple could have done without, as they attempted to promote their winery in a responsible manner.
‘‘Setting up in a mall is lucrative for a small business like ours, with the great concentration of people.’’
Over a barrel: Damon Pratt and Alisha Phelps say they rely on stalls in shopping centres to promote their small winery, so being sent packing from North City Shopping Centre in Porirua is a blow.