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Wine Spectator: Spain Struggles To Respond To Coronavirus, And Its Wine Industry Suffers

April 1, 2020

The novel coronavirus came late to Spain, but it came with fury. As late as March 7, Spain had fewer than 500 confirmed cases. But wine country was an early casualty. Police locked down sections of the small city of Haro, at the center of Rioja, after authorities confirmed dozens of cases there, which they believe some residents contracted at a funeral held two weeks earlier in the nearby Basque Country.

On March 13, Spain’s government declared a state of emergency. The entire country largely shut down, including restaurants, bars, shops, and other businesses deemed “non-essential.” Nevertheless, by March 30, Spain reported more than 85,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 7,340 deaths, second only to Italy. Among the victims was Carlos Falcó, Marques de Griñon, a Spanish innovator and leader in wine and olive oil at his estate, Dominio de Valdepusa.

Victor Urrutia, CEO of Cune, a leading producer based in Rioja, lives in Madrid, the epicenter of the pandemic in Spain. He knows multiple people who’ve been diagnosed with the virus. “Nobody is being tested nowadays here in Madrid,” he told Wine Spectator. “So you are either very sick and have gone to the hospital or you should be at home, healthy or not.” The government announced plans late last week to begin carrying out mass testing at a requisitioned fairground in a city park. Wine Spectator has the full story.—Thomas Matthews

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