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Wine And Spirits Retail Sales Remain Vibrant In The Golden State

April 2, 2020

It’s been two weeks since California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the state’s 40 million residents to stay home except when necessary, and retail sales of beverage alcohol in the Golden State continue to surge. Californians leaving home to shop are generally preordering by phone or online, and utilizing both delivery and pickup.

“The phone volume has been crazy,” said Glen Knight, owner of The Wine House in Los Angeles. Like many other major California retailers, including BevMo and K&L Wine Merchants, The Wine House is closed to in-store traffic. “We’ve been using curbside-only for the past two weeks, and we’ve since been busy pulling orders,” Knight added, noting that distributors have been arriving on a near-constant basis to replenish inventories.

In San Francisco, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant & Wine Bar and Mission Bay Wine & Cheese remain open to foot traffic, albeit with limited hours. “The change has been pretty significant,” said Peter Granoff, owner-partner of both locations as well as the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant shop in Napa. “We’re limiting in-store traffic and emphasizing curbside pick-up, online, email, and local delivery. And the wine bars at the stores, which are an important part of all three businesses, have of course gone away completely.”

In the Napa Valley, Gary’s Wine & Marketplace opened last October, occupying the former retail space of Dean & Deluca on St. Helena Highway, and has been impacted the valley’s tourism downturn. “We’ve transitioned to curbside pickup and local delivery as we’ve done in New Jersey, but the Napa Valley doesn’t have a similar population base to support it,” said owner Gary Fisch, who also operates the four-unit Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in New Jersey. “So we’re working closely with local wineries, who’ve also been impacted, to promote buying opportunities through our e-commerce site, garysnapa.com. We’re optimistic that the growth of the e-commerce side will allow us to maintain a presence in the Napa Valley through the crisis. We’ve also expanded our local delivery zone to offer 2-hour delivery in St. Helena via our website and mobile app.”

Fisch added that the Napa Valley store has been transitioning its model a bit more toward grocery during the crisis in order to service the local community, utilizing curbside pickup and delivery, and offering a small number of freshly prepared meals on a daily basis.—Kevin Barry & David Fleming

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