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Food and Wine

Wineries and the Coronavirus Crisis: How You Can Help

It’s not unusual to see emails, notices, and special online offers from local and national USA businesses this week. All businesses, including the wine industry, are being impacted by the Coronavirus crisis. According to just-drinks Magazine, Treasury Wines (maker of Penfold’s, Beringer, 19 Crimes, Stags Leap, and others selling 30 million cases of wine annually) will “fall short of its expected fiscal 2020 performance thanks to the significant impact of the coronavirus on wine consumption in China.” We are yet to discover the financial impact on the wine business in Europe and the Americas.

On March 16, 2020 Governor Newsom of California ordered tasting rooms in California wineries to close. The absence of wine tourism will greatly impact these mostly family-run enterprises. Wine brick-and-mortar retailers and e-Retailers encourage selective shopping, too.  I’d like to share a few thoughts from winery friends in the United States. Here are some of the recommended wines to enjoy in your homes. Let’s help their businesses by stocking our favorites from California, Texas, and New York.

California Wines

Chappellet Meadow on Pritchard Hill, Napa Valley

Dominic Chappellet is Vice President, Chappellet Vineyards, the first winery located atop astonishingly pristine Prichard Hills in Napa Valley. Dominic articulated beautifully his thoughts about the Coronavirus crisis impacting his family’s wine business:

At this point we are taking it day by day and hour by hour. New information is coming at us faster than we can react to it. Overall, we are looking at how we stay in business. We employ over 60 people. That means 60 families depending on that regular income for their livelihood. Our business is making and selling wine. That may be seen to some as a nonessential product, a luxury good. To us and our employees, it is our lives and how we support our families.

 During this strange and uncertain time we are doing our best to be good members of our community, to observe the recommendations of the CDC, local, state, and federal officials and to be conscientious of our neighbors and friends.

 With the latest statement from [California Governor] Gavin Newsom, we have had one more of our most vital sales channels shut down. Already we were seeing distributors, restaurants and retailers pulling back or just flat out suspending orders. That leaves us with very few options for selling wine. Online or phone sales are really our only avenue for income and who knows how long that will last or how many people will be wanting to buy wine.

 We realize that this scenario is not ours alone, it is playing out across our country and the world.  Our hope is that we as a country and a community can treat each other with compassion and empathy and not minimize each other’s hardships. Yes, wine is a luxury good, but it is the life blood of the Napa Valley and the wine industry supports thousands of families here. All of our lives are impacted, and we need to support each other to the best of our ability at every level.

Let’s hope this moment in time serves to make us better, more resilient and more understanding of each other.”

Writer’s note: I particularly love the Chappellet 2017 Cabernet Franc ($85) and 93 Points, Wine Advocate.

“At Home with Trefethen” is the current slogan for for Trefethen Family Vineyards of the historic wineries owned by a 4th generation vintner family in Napa Valley. In a recent newsletter they wrote:

“During these challenging times, we hope you can find some comfort in the enjoyment of wine and food in your own home. To make it easier to get some of our estate grown wines, we are offering $1 shipping on all orders.”

Trefethen Winery

Writer’s note: I highly recommend the 2017 Trefethen Merlot ($45) a TEXSOM International Gold medal winner, February 2020.

The Boisset Collection includes Raymond Vineyards in Napa Valley, JCB Wines and Buena Vista in Sonoma in California, and multiple properties in Burgundy, France. The California sites are offering free shipping for 6+ bottles. Notes Megan Long, Communications Manager,

 We love nothing more than to welcome our guests and share our passion for wine, but in light of the ongoing and evolving health situation, we are following the guidance of California state health officials.

Our tasting rooms and lounges will be closed to the public until further notice, while Oakville Grocery in Oakville and Healdsburg remain open to provide food and service to our community, including curb-side pick-up service for orders placed by telephone. We will continue to monitor the guidelines provided by state officials and hope to re-open as soon as we can safely do so. We hope the situation will be resolved sooner than later but will keep the health and safety of our guests and employees as our top concern.”

Writer’s note: I highly recommend the 2017 Raymond Generations Cabernet Sauvignon, a March 2020 TEXSOM International Awards Gold medal winner. The 2016 was $145. Pictured is Raymond Vineyards, organic “Theater of Nature,” a great spot for customers to visit when the winery re-opens.

Texas Wines

Eden Hill Winery, Celina, Texas

In Celina, Texas, just north of Dallas, at award-winning Eden Hill Winery, co-owner Clark Hornbaker offers:

“A new CURBSIDE service where a customer may order online or phone and drive by for curbside delivery direct to the vehicle; online store sales with $1 flat shipping rate; and Celina & Dallas Retail Rooms which are open for normal hours for glass and bottle sales and with more expanded sanitizing. Tastings have been suspended for now. The retail stores are subject to further state or federal requirements in the next weeks.” 

Writer’s note: I recommend the highly awarded white wine Eden Hill Marsanne 2016 ($24), a 91point Gold medal winner of the 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition.

Bending Branch Winery, a peaceful, celebrated winery near Fredericksburg, Texas is  offering curbside pickup details in this video.

Bending Branch Winery, Comfort, Texas. Linda Spina, photographer

Writer’s note: The Bending Branch Tannat 2017 ($30) was voted a Gold Medal and 90 points at the San Francisco International Wine Competition.

New York State

Dr. Frank Winery terrace, Hammondsport, NY. view of Keuka Lake

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, is located in the New York area Finger Lakes region of New York state. Customers will enjoy free shipping for any order of 6 or more bottles. Meaghan Franks, Vice President, stated,

“Today [March 16] we made the tough decision to close our tasting room but remain open for shipping and pickup orders.”

Writer’s note: One of my favorite wines is the Dr. Frank  2018 Gewürztraminer ($17), one of Wine & Spirits Magazine “2019 Value All Stars.”

Select Wine e-Retailers and Retailers

 The wine e-Retailers are also making some offers. Notes online retailer, Wine Access:  “As of March 16:

“Beginning immediately, we are offering 10% off every wine in our Store through the end of March. All Store wines ship the next day so you can enjoy them as soon as possible, or you can specify a delivery date. For existing orders (Store wines and Limited Time Offers), you’ll receive an email prior to us shipping your wine, and will have the option to change your shipping date, and even add Store wines to your order.”

Wine.com has some “End of Season” sales offering up to 50% off some major brands.

Janel Lubanski, Wine specialist, notes: “Gary’s Wine & Marketplace” which has four locations throughout New Jersey (Wayne, Madison, Closter, and Bernardsville) will adjust its store hours effective today, to 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM. A new Gary’s website and downloadable app along with 24 to 48-hour deliveries will encourage you to choose an ordering preference.

“While Gary’s is remaining open to the public for now, in order to reduce exposure to COVID-19 and to practice social distancing, they strongly encourage customers to use either the delivery service or the new same-day curbside pickup option.”

Let’s take advantage of these amazing wine offers, chill out,  and help the USA winery business while practicing social distancing at home. Be safe.

Note: Tricia Conover, DipWSET, Travel and Wine Writer, was a hospital clinical microbiologist (M.T. ASCP) prior to her software and journalism careers.

 

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