How to Support Your Favorite Wineries During the Pandemic
The wine business is a social industry. It's always been built on relationships between wineries, wine lovers, and all the places where people can buy and enjoy wine. That solid foundation is now in jeopardy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The wine industry as a whole is bracing for the reality of continued uncertainty. From California to Oregon and Washington, east to Texas, Virginia, and New York, along with every state in America where wine is made, wineries are adapting as fast as they can. The best advice the industry is giving itself is: don’t panic; and to everyone else the message is: keep buying wine.
To get a sense of what the industry is thinking, I spoke with a host of California producers, like Annie Favia of Favia Erickson Winegrowers, who spent the first day of spring checking on vineyards on the eastern Vaca Mountain range in Napa. “It’s a beautiful spring, and things look good,” she says. “We have bud-break in Chardonnay and other varieties, and farming operations are continuing as normal.” Considered an “essential business,” farming is especially essential in winemaking and is therefore exempt from the “shelter in place” order issued by Napa’s Health & Human Services Agency.
Wineries are doing everything they can to maintain their strict sanitation protocols. Joel Gott winemaker Alisa Jacobson acknowledges that it’s important to do everything to ensure every person’s safety and well-being, but also is thinking about the long term. “When we come out of this, we need to be sure our companies are economically stable and we still have jobs for everyone,” she says.
Restaurants are also considered essential, but are limited to delivery and carry-out services. Wine bars in California, and all bars for that matter, though they are considered “non-essential businesses,” are getting a break. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control “has temporarily relaxed regulations for alcohol sellers,” allowing restaurants and bars to sell alcoholic beverages to-go. Bay Area writer Virginia Miller, a World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy chair for West USA & West Canada, encourages people to look at recommendations from the James Beard Foundation and Craft Table, which lists ways to support those throughout the restaurant industry.
But the immediate impacts of businesses closing are already being felt. In the Bay Area, restaurants and retail shops “have all but shut down, which is heartbreaking on so many levels,” says Shannon Muracchioli, director of marketing at Clos du Val winery in Napa. “Of course, that’s had an immediate impact as has the closing of our tasting room.”
Muracchioli acknowledges that decreased sales and revenue is one thing, but “the people affected by those decreases are a whole other matter,” she says. “What we’re trying to focus on now is how to keep strong, stay connected, and be prepared to support as many of those accounts”—meaning the restaurant and retail accounts that buy wine from wineries and are the lifeblood for many producers—“as we get through this and they are able to reopen.”
Many are doing their best to improvise and innovate. After closing their dining room in St. Helena, California, PRESS Restaurant owner Samantha Rudd announced they’d be offering curbside pick-up menus and wine for pick-up. Gott’s Roadside says on its website that 100% of the sales will “go to employees” to help minimize the impact on their lives. Similarly, in New York City, restaurants are allowed at this time to sell wine at retail, to help mitigate their losses during the enforced closure.
And that’s the new norm for right now: #socialdistancing with wine at home. Wine industry icons like Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible are planning virtual tastings on Instagram (MacNeil plans to host weekly tastings at @karenmacneilco), as are many wineries around the country.
Second-generation vintner Courtney Foley of Foley Family Wines, which has properties throughout California like Chalk Hill in Sonoma and both Firestone and Foley Estates in the Central Coast says, “We’re focusing on crafting content that enables people to feel engaged with wine, to learn about it, and to learn about the people in our company, and to do that in a safe way.”
Cushing Donelan at Donelan Family Wines in Sonoma is doing his best to keep up with the day-to-day changes in protocol via state and local government notifications as well as through local organizations like Sonoma County Vintners. “We’ve been through a lot the last three years,” he says, “losing our estate property in the Tubbs Fire, replanting/budding over, grooming a new winemaker and now this,” he says, adding, “If we can make it through all that, then we can do anything!” Rolando Herrera of Mi Sueno Winery in Napa says that financially, the supply chain is in “a very steep decline and it’s almost instantaneous,” but says, “If I am going to experience difficult times, I would rather face them with a smile on my face and a good attitude.”
That exact sentiment is the prevailing spirit of everyone I spoke with over the last few days, not just in Napa Valley but around the country—optimism, strength, determination and the will to thrive while rising to the moment to ensure the safety and health of all.
So, how can you help American wineries?
The short answer is: buy wine. Shipping is still an essential business. But don’t stop there—stay engaged via virtual tastings on Facebook Live, Instagram, and Zoom. (One winemaker, John Benedetti from Santé Arcangeli in the Santa Cruz Mountains, threatened to take a tequila shot for every 12 bottles of wine sold during a "Wreck the Winemaker" live tasting on Facebook Live, which, yeah, could get messy.) And if you subscribe to a winery mailing list, read their emails. Many are sending creative in-home recipes and pairing ideas and a bevy of rich content to help take your mind off the impending doom and gloom that radiates from local and national news outlets.
Here is a long list of most recent notifications to hit our inboxes. This is by no means a complete list, and while it skews heavily California, it does include a smattering of notifications from other states. There are many more offers popping up every day, too. The best advice may be to think of the wines you love from all over, reach out to those wineries, and find out how you can help. Chances are, like the wineries below, they’re offering discounts, savings on shipping, and savings on case-purchases. It’s a great time to help out, and after all, you’ll also end up with some bottles of great wine. (Note: These promotions are subject to expire at varying times, so please check with the winery.)
Here's an Extensive List of Promotions, Virtual Tastings, and More
Regional Winery Associations
Napa Valley Vintners: “Wine in general is moving through all channels for enjoyment at home, and wineries are stepping up their efforts with online and phone sales as well as conducting at home tastings with live chat tools,” says Teresa Wall, Senior Director of Marketing Communications for Napa Valley Vintners. “As a community, we are coming together each Friday to share a glass of wine through social media. Each week is focused on a different variety. We will be highlighting varieties, sharing historical information, suggesting food pairings and asking Napa Valley fans to open a bottle of Napa Valley wine with us.”
The hashtag for these tastings is: #itsfromnapa
Friday, March 27: Chardonnay
Friday, April 3: Merlot
Friday, April 10: Sauvignon Blanc
Friday, April 17: Pinot Noir
On March 30-31, Napa Valley wineries will be opening their wine libraries to offer unprecedented wines during these unprecedented times. “Open the Cellar” day will include special offerings from wineries throughout Napa Valley. For info can be found their website.
Lodi Winegrape Commission: Continue to check in and subscribe to their mailings to be informed of upcoming virtual tastings, games, and cooking demos.
New York Wine & Grape Foundation: This link provides a list of all the wine regions in New York State, many of which are socially active, for instance, participating in “Open That Bottle of Local Wine Night” (#OpenLocalWine inspired by #OpenThatBottleNight pioneered by former Wall Street Journal columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, currently of Grape Collective.) Thanks to Macari Vineyards in Mattituck, NY for tipping us off to The Cork Report’s list of East Coast wineries offering special discounts and shipping deals for the duration of the lockdowns).
Oregon Wine Board: Detailing the creative measures that Oregon winemakers are taking in response to the Executive Order to close tasting rooms.
Sonoma Sip From Home: This is an incredible resource detailing Sonoma wineries, their current promotions, and website links, all in one easy-to-read list.
Happy Hour at Home with the Santa Lucia Highlands: Savor and save with Santa Lucia Highlands wines delivered directly to your home.
The Paso Robles Wine Alliance has posted this list of discounts, virtual tastings, curbside pickups, and more information on purchasing from wineries in the Paso Robles region.
Santa Barbara Vintners: This is a list of wineries that have designed special offers to “help you experience Santa Barbara Wine Country vicariously through a bottle,” as they say. You could also comb this list of wineries based in Los Olivos, California, and contact them for information.
Those in Southern California may want to comb the list of Temecula Valley wineries and inquire with each individual producer, while Northern California residents able to pick-up in person could find their favorite Alexander Valley or Anderson Valley or Mendocino producer.
Walla Walla Wine Alliance (Washington & Oregon): While tasting rooms are closed, this is a list of wineries throughout the region and what they are offering in terms of discounts and online deals. There is also a detailed list of Columbia Valley wineries via Go Taste Wine, so if you see your favorite on the list, reach out and ask how you can help or keep engaged.
Willamette Valley Wineries Association has created a consolidated list of all of the online specials, as well as delivery or pick up options for wineries throughout Willamette. Continue to check back in as the association announces virtual wine tastings and be sure to look for new stories with recipe ideas, winemaker playlists, and imagery from the vineyards to keep you longing for a return to normalcy. Search for the social hashtag: #WVCommunity.
Alma Rosa (Santa Barbara County): Offering daily wine features to visitors to help brighten their days; inquire about picking up at 805-681-9395.
Andrew Murray Vineyards (Santa Barbara County): Shipping is included for all orders of 3 or more bottles.
Aperture Cellars (Sonoma): Offering free shipping on case orders.
Atlas Wine Co (Napa-based) Omen and Oro Bello brands offering 30% off all wines and free shipping on case-buys; use code HOME30.
Authentique Wine Cellars (Oregon): offering special discounts, opening up their library, and complimentary UPS ground shipping (and/or “personal hand-sanitized doorstep delivery in the Portland/Salem metro area.”)
AXR (Napa): Hosting Virtual Tastings with Winemaker/Partner Jean Hoefliger; shipping included on orders for as long as code WFH lasts.
Baiocchi Wines (Amador County-based): Offering a “shelter-in-place three-pack” with three red blends and free shipping.
Benovia Winery (Sonoma): Shipping is included on purchases of three bottles or more.
Bien Nacido Estates (Santa Barbara County): Bien Nacido & Solomon Hills is offering 30% off for club members and 20% off for non-members, plus one-cent shipping for all phone and online orders. Customers in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley can also take advantage of free delivery. Inquire about in-store pick-ups and virtual tastings with Jason Villalobos at 805-722-0623.
Bricoleur Vineyards (Sonoma): Offering flat rate $9.95 shipping on any order; 10% of all wine purchases (excluding shipping & taxes) will be donated to The Redwood Empire Food Bank; use code SIPFROMHOME.
Boisset Collection (Napa-based): Offering free ground shipping on all orders of six bottles or more through the end of the month; use code SPRINGCLEAN, which will also unlock up to 40% off selected wines. People who wish to purchase non-sale wines or wine club members who want to pick up their wines can do so via curbside pick-up appointments at Raymond Vineyards, Buena Vista Winery and DeLoach Vineyards via CellarPass.com (links to Raymond, Buena Vista and DeLoach). JCB wines can be picked up from Raymond and DeLoach, while Wattle Creek wines will be available at DeLoach. Join Jean-Charles for daily Facebook Live virtual happy hour broadcasts at 6 p.m. as he opens bottles and takes questions from online viewers.
Cambria Estate Winery (Santa Barbara County): Offering 15% off all purchases; any 3-bottle purchases will include a bottle of 2015 Mesa Terrace Pinot Noir. Shipping included on all orders.
Captûre Wines (Napa-based): Shipping included on all orders; use code SPRING4U.
Charles Krug (Napa): Offering free shipping on all orders.
Chateau Montelena (Napa): Offering a special package that includes a mix-and-match half or full case (6 or 12 bottles) of Montelena’s current releases; 1 copy of “Bottle Shock” the feel-good film based on Chateau Montelena's win at the 1976 Judgment of Paris starring Alan Rickman and Chris Pine; a complimentary wine tasting once tasting rooms reopen; additionally offering no contact, curbside pickup for locals and $1 shipping on all 12-case orders. Owner Bo Barrett and winemaker Matt Crafton will also be hosting digital happy hours via Instagram live to connect with wine drinkers at home.
Covenant Winery (Berkeley): Like many San Francisco East Bay wineries, Covenant is doing personal deliveries to those who are homebound, offering curbside pick-up, and doing their best to keep homes stocked with wine. Covenant owners Jeff and Jodie Morgan make some of the best kosher wine in California, and with Passover coming in April they are doing whatever they can to soften the edge of what may be the most traumatic Passover since the exodus from Egypt 3500 years ago.
Crawford Family Wines (Santa Barbara County): Offering complimentary delivery on wine purchases throughout the Santa Ynez Valley. Their tasting room in Solvang is also available for pick-ups; 15% off all case purchases.
Crown Point (Santa Barbara County): Offering complimentary shipping on orders of 6+ bottles; inquire: 805-693-9300.
Davies Vineyards/Schramsberg (Napa-based): Beginning 3/24, offering a 25% discount on wine purchases and discounted shipping.
Donkey & Goat (Berkeley-based): Free local delivery on 6+ bottles; order online and pick-up “curbside.”
Donum Estate (Sonoma): Offering $10 ground shipping; use the code FRIEND10. (For every order placed online Donum is donating $10 to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Response Fund in honor of Donum customers).
Donelan Family Wines (Sonoma): Offering $15 shipping on 6+ bottles; use code SHIPPING6; complimentary shipping on 12+ bottles; use code FREESHIPPING; they are donating 10% of each purchase to a local restaurant of the buyer’s choice with an input field as your order.
Elizabeth Spencer Winery (Napa): Offering $10 shipping on all orders of $200 or more.
Far Niente Family of Winery & Vineyards (Napa): Offering Curbside Pickup at Nickel & Nickel: 10-4pm, 7 days a week at Nickel & Nickel for all brands. Phone in order only 707-967-9600. Complimentary charcuterie will be provided with every order. In addition, all wine club orders will ship free in April.
Farmstead/Long Meadow Ranch (Napa): While the Farmstead dining room is currently closed, the restaurant is open for business offering up to-go and delivery orders from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, so you can still pick up a hot meal, as well as wine and beer. To place a to-go or delivery order visit longmeadowranch.com/togo.
Favia (Napa-based): Offering extended release period for wines in their online shop; buyers simply have to create an account (just a user name and password) and then gain access to current releases, and a special vertical of Favia 2010-2016 “Quartzo” Syrah from Amador County.
Ferrari-Carano Vineyards and Winery (Sonoma): Offering $1 ground shipping for all online orders of 12 bottles or more; use code #SIPSONOMA (hashtag required).
Fess Parker, Epiphany, & Addendum (Santa Barbara County): Offering discounted flat-rate shipping of $10 through the end of March as well as special and curbside pick-up at their tasting rooms in Los Olivos, as well as free in-person delivery in Santa Barbara County with the purchase of one case of wine or more.
Flambeaux Wine (Sonoma): Planning to host virtual Wine Tastings with Vintners Steve and Pattie Murray; inquire: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Foley Family Wines (Chalk Hill in Sonoma; Foley-Johnson in Napa; Firestone in Santa Barbara, and more throughout California): Offering virtual Instagram tastings (@ffwsociety); inquire with each winery for specials and potential orders.
Frank Family Vineyards (Napa): Offering flat rate shipping of $10.00 with a purchase of 3 wines, free shipping with a purchase of 6 bottles or more, free shipping and 10% savings with a purchase of 12 bottles or more; valid through midnight on 3.31.
Freemark Abbey (Napa): Offering complimentary shipping and 15% off on 6+ bottles; use code RAISEAGLASS.
Grounded Wine Co (Napa-based): Offering 25% off of shipping on orders of 6 bottles and 1-cent shipping on cases; Winemaker Josh Phelps will be donating 10% of sales to the Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa to help those who have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus shutdown.
Hamel Family Wines (Sonoma): Offering free ground shipping on all orders. For anyone who has had to cancel a tasting experience due to the tasting room closure, they will offer a complimentary tasting when they reopen.
Heitz Cellar (Napa): free shipping on all U.S. orders for a limited time; use code HEITZFAMILY.
Inglenook (Napa): Offering $5 shipping on orders of six bottles or more.
Inman Family Wines (Sonoma): Offering “Meet the Winemaker” happy hour tastings; on purchases of special 3-bottle-packs 5% of all proceeds donated to Meals on Wheels.
Iron Horse (Sonoma): Offering $1 shipping on six bottles or more.
Jackson Family Wines: Offering virtual tastings of select wines through The Spire Collection (wine selections may include La Jota Cabernet Sauvignon from Howell Mountain in Napa Valley, Maggy Hawk Pinot Noir from the coastal region of Anderson Valley, and others. Call for more details: 707-948-1920.
J Vineyards & Winery (Sonoma): Offering ground shipping on 3 or more bottles purchased. No promo code is required.
Wilkes (Santa Barbara County): Members receive 30% off, non-members receive 20% off, and all phone and online orders include one-cent shipping. Inquire about a pick-up at their downtown Santa Barbara location and virtual tastings: email@example.com.
JONATA (and sister wineries The Hilt and The Pairing in Santa Barbara County): Offering $1 shipping on 12 bottles or more (can mix and match from the 3 brands).
Kendall Jackson (Sonoma-based): Offering 20% off all wine orders using code KJSPRING. Also offering free shipping on all orders of $75+ through April 1.
L’Ecole 41 (Walla Walla Washington): Offering $10 shipping on orders of 6+ bottles.
La Crema (Sonoma): Offering free shipping and 15% off all orders; use code LCNOW through the end of March.
Lail Vineyards (Napa): currently offering wines like J. Daniel Cuvée Cabernet Sauvignon and Georgia Sauvignon Blanc that are usually only available during allocation periods; shipping on all orders.
Long Meadow Ranch (Napa): Offering free ground shipping on all orders; use code SENDWINE.
Matanzas Creek (Sonoma): 10% off + 2-Day shipping included; use code MCWNOW.
Matthiasson (Napa): Offering complimentary ground shipping on 6-bottle-packs and 12-bottle-packs, with varying discounts, through Friday, April 3, 2020.
Mayacamas Vineyards (Napa): The spring offering will be extended through the end of March with a special re-release of their lauded 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon.
Melville (Santa Barbara County): Offering $1 shipping on all orders of 3 bottles or more. Though their two tasting room locations in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley are closed for general visitation, they are welcoming patrons who wish to purchase wine to-go or who would like to pick up online orders. Additional promotions and specials will be announced in the coming weeks.
Mi Sueno Winery (Napa): Offering free shipping on orders of 6+ bottles; use code LETSSTAYIN
Nicolas-Jay (Oregon): Shipping included on all purchases until further notiece; Jean-Nicolas Méo from Burgundy and Jay Boberg from Nicolas-Jay will host a virtual tasting from Burgundy and Oregon on Saturday, March 28;
Oak Farm Vineyards (Lodi): Offering free shipping on three bottles or more. They are also allowing customers to come to the winery for pickup only, and meet customers at their cars to deliver wines so no one needs to leave their vehicle.
Oceano (San Luis Obispo): Offering 20% off first order (using code FIRST), as well as free ground shipping on 6 bottles or more.
Pence Vineyards (Santa Barbara County): Remains open for guest purchases and pick-ups; inquire with Amanda at 805-735-7000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PlumpJack Group (Napa): PlumpJack, CADE, and Odette wineries offering shipments of six bottles of wine for $1 (free for members). Check their Facebook page for virtual tastings.
Ram’s Gate Winery (Sonoma): Offering 15% off all online orders and free shipping on all purchases; use code RAMSGATE.
Rusack (Santa Barbara County): Offer $10 on purchases of 1-12 bottles; inquire: 805-688-1278.
Scar of the Sea (Santa Barbara County): Free shipping and 35% off purchases using the promo code COVID19 at checkout.
St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery (Napa): shipping included on case purchases; hosting Virtual Wine Tastings through April on Thursdays via FaceBook Live.
SommSelect (Sonona-based): Offering a “greatest hits” six-bottle pack, shipping included. 10% of all proceeds over the next month will be donated to the Restaurant Workers Relief Program via the Lee Initiative. Check in for interactive tastings.
Sosie Wines (Sonoma): Offering scheduled virtual tastings, email email@example.com for more information; ask about "blue glove delivery service" if you live in San Francisco; 50% off shipping on 3+ bottles with code SHELTER3; shipping included on 6+ orders; use code SHELTER6.
Stony Hill Vineyard (Napa): Offering free ground shipping on all orders; use code NEEDWINE
Sullivan Rutherford Estate (Napa): Offering 25% off select wines and complimentary ground shipping on all online and phone orders.
The Calling (Sonoma): From now through April 10, orders of 6 or more bottles will ship for just $1; use code: SHIP20
Trinchero Family Estates (Napa-based): Shipping included on any order of $50 or more across all web stores for brands Trinchero Napa Valley, Napa Cellars, Ziata, Neyers, and others—just follow the link and mouse over “our brands.” Offer is valid through the end of April.
Unionville Vineyards (Hunterdon County, New Jersey): Offering free shipping on six bottles or more using the code "SHIPNOW," or 15% off a case using the code "CASE15." Donating all profits on Dry Riesling sales for the next two months to support frontline healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients in regional hospitals.
Vintage Wine Estates (including B.R. Cohn in Sonoma, Clos Pegase, Swanson, and Girard in Napa, Laetitia and Qupe in Santa Barbara, and more): Offering bunker-down flash sales from their notable estates (get on the individual winery mailing lists for special offers); use code WINETOGETHER at checkout for 1¢ shipping on orders of 6 or more bottles.
William Chris Vineyards (Texas Hill Country): Offering curbside wine pick up, planning virtual live tastings on Facebook Live, and announcing special offers on wine and shipping, and putting their tasting room team to work in the vineyard and on the bottling line so that they can keep them on staff with healthcare coverage.
Wine Access (Napa-based): Offering 15% off wines in their online Store through at least the end of March; join their new Facebook Group “The Wine Access Experience” for all kinds of virtual engagement.
Zaca Mesa (Santa Barbara County): Offering $5 shipping; use code ZM5SHIP.