Wine Spectator: West Coast Wineries Face Uncertain FutureApril 7, 2020
As winery tasting rooms across the U.S. face a third week of closure to the public to reduce the spread of COVID-19, vintners are adjusting to what may be a new normal for another long month. Hosting visitors is at the core of a winery’s identity, and often a substantial source of revenue—more than a third of sales for many small wineries.
California’s shelter in place order is set to last until at least May 3 in many counties, including Sonoma, while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has extended the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order until May 4. Small wineries that rely on tourism for sales will be closed for the start of the tourist season.
Data from a survey by Wine America on the effects mandated closures have had on employment, production, tourism and sales exposed frightening results. More than 1,000 wineries in 49 states responded to the survey (approximately 10% of U.S. wineries). They reported nearly 5,000 layoffs and $40 million in total financial loss in March. The average winery reported a 63% decrease in sales. Extrapolated out to cover the entire industry, that’s a potential $400 million loss in one month. Still, 80% of the surveyed wineries have continued winemaking operations.
“In 40 years in this business, we’ve been hit with wildfires, earthquakes, floods, economic downturns, and bugs that threatened to wipe out the vineyards. This feels like getting hit by all those things at the same time,” Napa Valley’s Doug Shafer of Shafer Vineyards told Wine Spectator. Here’s the full story.—Aaron Romano & Augustus WeedSubscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning.