Nearly everyone is doing his or her part to combat the spread of COVID-19, and many are facing hardships, financial and otherwise. The wine industry is no exception. Tasting rooms across the nation have closed, cutting off a valuable income stream. That’s not to mention, of course, wine shops, restaurants and wine bars being closed in many parts of the world.
What’s a lover of wine to do? Plenty, it turns out, and here are just a few actions you can take to help the wine world while waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to ease.
First, buy wine. Buy a lot of wine — if you’re in position to be able to spend. Many wineries are offering specials on shipping rates, and have put together some inventive packages. Gamble Family Vineyards, for example, is offering a Gamble Home Survival Kit, which includes a 2015 Paramount Red Blend, a 2015 Family Home Cabernet Sauvignon, a 2015 CAIRO Cabernet Sauvignon, and a 2015 Cabernet Franc… all good selections. Plus, they are throwing in two bottles for free, the 2011 Old Vine Syrah and the 2018 Rose. All in, you’ll pay $460 for a $675 value, and get two-day air shipping.
Chateau Montelena’s Wine Shelter package is another one to consider. You get a copy of the film Bottle Shock — starring Chris Pine and Alan Rickman — a mix-and-match half or full case of Montelena’s current releases, and a complimentary tasting once the winery’s tasting rooms (in Calistoga and San Francisco) reopen. In addition, the winery is offering $1 shipping on all 12-case orders.
Gamble and Chateau Montelena are but two of the many producers offering such deals during these trying times, so get in touch with your favorite winery and stock up.
Many producers are holding virtual tastings during the pandemic, allowing consumers to learn more about wine from their comfort of their homes (Chateau Montelena, among many others, are holding these fun events). Again, get in touch with your favorite winery or wine merchant and sip, taste and learn.
Joining wine clubs is another great way to support wineries, and it’s easy. Just visit the producer’s website, select the club level you wish to join, and look forward to regular shipments.
Of course, shopping locally is an important part of supporting the wine industry. Many restaurants are selling their wines at special prices (and the state of Texas is allowing alcohol purchases on a to-go basis, a great move). I’ve been keeping in touch with Sean Beck, the beverage director at H-Town Restaurant Group, via Facebook, and he’s been featuring some great bottles daily.
“People are calling and asking me to put together a three-pack of, say, white Bordeaux or Burgundy, or a six-pack of Texas wines, and they’ll come by and pick them up,” Beck told me during a telephone conversation. “Customers have also been asking for our wine list, and we’ll email it to them so they can order.”
Beck is among many sommeliers and beverage directors in Houston and Dallas helping at-home consumers support their favorite restaurants and drink well at the same time.
Other local options are, of course, your favorite wine store. I love Houston Wine Merchant, and the management there (as is the case with many shops nationwide now) have gone to telephone or online ordering only. Curbside pick-up and delivery are available at most merchants, and both options make it easy for you to support a small business and keep your cellar or shelf stocked.
This pandemic will end, and I am hoping that the wine industry — producers, distributors, retailers, restaurants and bars and bistros — emerges stronger than ever before once it does. We can all do our part to help that happen, so please join me by buying a case of wine today directly from your favorite winery or small restaurant or merchant.