Zooming In On the Wine Industry
Last week, I participated in three Zoom gatherings of friends – all of us trying to pretend that this is almost as good as getting together. There are two things that inevitably get said by someone in each group. The first is, “Hey, this is kind of cool…maybe we should do this after the virus is gone!” No. No we shouldn’t. Not unless you like being in a social group of ten people where there can be no side conversations and you have to listen to the same one or two people who have impeccable timing to begin a topic before you can get a word in. And not unless you like the one person who tries to get everybody into the conversation by randomly asking unprepared people things like, “Hey, Chuck, you’re awfully quiet. What do you think about what Betty and Veronica were saying about shopping for bras online?” The only good thing about not getting a word in edgewise is that it leaves you plenty of time to enjoy that bottle of wine that you opened just before you Zoomed in.
Which leads us to the second thing that was said in each social Zoom gathering. It usually follows the inevitable lifting of the wine or cocktail glass, and after a hearty “Cheers” comes the uttering, “Alcohol sales are way up, and that’s good news!” No. No, it’s not good news for the wine industry. I keep this wet blanket of news out of these social conversations, but I will share with you a little of what I have learned.
Forbes magazine has reported that retail wine sales were up 28% for the week prior to March 14, 2020. The well organized shift to delivery by large volume alcohol retailers has helped fuel this rise in sales, but a different impact is felt by the smaller, local wineries who rely on visitors to the tasting rooms and restaurants. WineAmerica, an industry association which advocates nationally for wineries, reports that their 500+ member wineries lost $40 million dollars in March alone. The average winery will lose approximately 63 percent of its sales in March and 75% in April while having to layoff an average of 4 workers. While many Temecula wineries are still open for bottle purchases, everything else is shut down.
So, that’s not good news for the wine industry, but, “Hey, bra sales are up and that’s good news.” Or not.
(Grapes and Grains is open for bottle sales Monday to Friday, 2:00-7:00 p.m., including curbside pick up, home delivery for members, and shipping within California. You can also use Postmates to have wines delivered)