Six things the wine business is doing to cut costs and drum up business during the duration

wine business
“Hmmm. How can I write about the same wine this year that I wrote about last year?”

It hasn’t been easy for wine producers, marketers, and PR types during the pandemic

Yes, we’re buying more wine over the Internet than ever before, but that doesn’t mean the wine business is healthy. Ask anyone at the biggest distributors who was laid off in the past eight weeks. So how else is the wine business cutting costs and drumming up business during the duration?

This is what I have seen:

• Using Styrofoam inserts for packing wine samples. I really haven’t seen any in a couple of years, given Styrofoam’s environmental evil. Most shippers have switched to cardboard liners or plastic bubble bags. But during the duration, Styrofoam appeared again, since it was probably sitting in a back room and has already been paid for.

• Samples from producers who wouldn’t normally speak to me, let alone send me wine. I’m not the only who has had this happen; several of my colleagues have reported the same thing. Said one: “What am I going to do, writing about heavy Napa cabernet, in the middle of summer?”

• Old samples, as in the same samples I got last year. I’ve never had this happen before, but one producer sent me the same rose they sent in 2019. This speaks to how much wine is sitting in warehouses, unsold and unloved.

• Emails every two or three months offering me the same wines they just sent me. This has happened two or three times this year, where a PR firm offered me wine at the end of last year and the same wine a couple of months later. And then a couple of months later.  Once again, this speaks to how much wine is sitting in warehouses, unsold and unloved.

• Virtual tastings, where I have to try and find the wine to taste with the producer. I don’t mind buying the wine, since I do so much of that anyway. But what’s the point of inviting me to a virtual tasting when I can’t find the wine to taste?

• Pleas for money. I’ve never seen this. Ever. But I one email I got from a wine trade association asked to help them find money to expand their marketing efforts during the duration. We’ll ignore the fact that my job isn’t to help them sell wine, but doesn’t asking for money from complete strangers smack of quiet desperation (to paraphrase Henry David Thoreau)?

6 thoughts on “Six things the wine business is doing to cut costs and drum up business during the duration

  • By Alfonso -

    I hear ya. and that doesn’t even get into where the wholesale distributors are heading, with regards to their long-term strategies for survival. That’s not going to be pretty for a lot of folks.

  • By kayjay -

    As an importer, being bombarded with super-friendly notes from wineries worldwide, some total strangers and some being people that I met 8 years ago at a festival somewhere but never worked with…people are digging deep into the email lists looking for anyone to buy anything. Sad, in a way, but the next step will be deep pricing discounts (that they are acting today like they can’t see looming on the very near horizon) to relieve gluts. And one pretty common entry sentence on a lot of those emails “Things are getting back to normal!”…really? I understand wanting to be upbeat, but who do they think they are talking to?

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      Thanks for this. It’s good to know that others have seen the same thing.

  • By eric -

    so hopefully those stuck working from home for the foreseeable future will increase wine consumption – i’m certainly doing my part! 😉 still buying mostly from local shops within walking distance, either by walking into the store or ordering from their website and doing curbside pickup

  • By Joe -

    Money changing middle men who exist to extract unwarranted rent from the buyer/seller exchange are stuck with warehouses full of unsold product? Cry me a river.

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