COVID-19 For An Industry.. And For Us As People
I haven’t wanted to talk about this.
I haven’t wanted to talk about anything to do with this year, for a long time.
There’s a reason my 2020 Vintage update waited until today to be written as well, I think I had to be ready to talk about this as well.
But I want to write about it now, because we frame history in our understanding of it, from whatever distance. I want to commit something to paper, so in 5, 10, 20 years, it’s here.
My honest belief is that we will as a whole come out stronger than we went into this; we will get stronger through adversity. We will learn to market wine online, we’ll learn to work auctions and retail – which are all big weaknesses for most wineries. But, more than that, it gives us understanding of where we choose to stand. For me personally, I’ve had to draw a line that I won’t go beyond – if I’m breathing, I’m making wine, that simple.
We’re currently at a standstill, Cellar Doors and Restaurants cannot operate. This affect is felt through the entire supply chain. History will likely show that alcohol consumption spiked in this time, and it did for retailers but mostly large scale production cheap booze, and you really had to have your claws into those markets before the pandemic, or you found yourself attempting to enter it alongside literally everyone else.
We’re projecting ballpark of 30% of wineries go bust through this.
Understand I’m not speaking from a place of fear – I’m okay, both Crothers Wine and Just Grape Juice will survive, and to be honest we’ll probably see a boom time on the other side of this, but they’ll survive because we’re small enough that we can make some personal sacrifices and fund it.
Amongst other things I’ve given up my apartment to pay for vintage – I don’t want empathy for that. In my mind, in sacrificing the roof over my head today, a few years down the track when I have a family, I’ll be able to put a roof over their heads. And this I am, this is my artistry, I am not backing down.
Another note I want to make in all of this, is the impact this has had on the little guys. The restaurant industry is much nearer my heart than the others who’ve been hit just as hard, but to see so many out of work and with no support is devastating. If as a blanket rule you put everyone out of work, and put a system in place to provide support, there will always be someone who slips through the cracks and cannot obtain it. If 0.5% don’t get support, to that 0.5%, it’s 100%.
It is a heartbreaking time.
It is scary.
We as people are capable of enormous fortitude, but that is much more so when we have clarity of the situation. If we need to survive 6 months, or 6 years of hardship, we will. But the uncertainty is a cancer that eats away at us, and threatens our resolve.
On the other side of this, does the economy tank? Will we be able to go to a functioning hospital when we’re sick, will we be able put food on the table? Will we be okay? Will our loved ones be okay?
Is the wine I’m making now, going to find itself in a market where no one is willing to pay more than $6 a bottle for a drink, and I might as well be making moonshine?
It’s scary, and that’s the consistent thing through all of this.
You have a thousand conversations with people, essentially asking “Are you okay?” and invariably, we all say that we are, but we’re scared. If you wash dishes in restaurant, drive a delivery truck, whatever, you’re scared because frankly you’re in over your head. We all are.
However, adversity breeds many good things. Stagnation and comfort can be far more dangerous.
Our strength, creativity, and resilience will be tested, but we will grow through it.
One last important thing to mention is that through these times the overwhelming reaction has been one of kindness, support and togetherness. People aren’t that bad.