Will the 2020 rose season survive the coronavirus pandemic?

rose seasonThe answer? A qualified yes, but with higher prices and less rose to choose from

Drinking rose is about being outdoors and about being with friends. And, for a significant part of the rose drinking population, it’s about social media, Instagram, and selfies. All of which, of course, have been severely curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

So will there be a 2020 rose season this spring?

The good news is a qualified yes. The producers and importers I’ve talked to are sending their 2019 roses to market, hoping for the best at a time when most restaurants are closed and retailers are only offering delivery, pick up, and on-line sales.

“I am not sure what will happen with rose season, but we are importing a few containers and hope that retailers will support our efforts,” says Patrick Mata of Ole & Obrigado, one of the best Spanish importers in the world. “The key to being successful in this new environment is to work with retailers that already know the wines and can recommend them to their customers, since most customers cannot walk into the stores to browse around.”

The bad news? This is a retail environment no one has seen before. Layoffs, furloughs, and reduced salaries for those still working could mean consumers will cut back on wine – including rose – sooner rather than later, says Charles Bieler, who makes the Charles & Charles Washington state rose and the Bieler et Fils Sabine rose in Provence.

In addition, the pandemic means we almost certainly won’t see the assortment or the quantity of rose we’ve seen in years past. This was  going to be the case even before the pandemic, thanks to the Trump Administrations 25 percent tariff on French and Spanish wine. Bieler, for example, had to increase the retail price of the Sabine, so it will cost $12 to $13 instead of $10 to $12 this year.

In this, Chris Keel, who owns the boutique Put a Cork in It wine shop in Fort Worth, Texas, says he has seen a few 2019 roses, but he’s still working his way through the 2018s that are in stock. Not surprisingly, he says, the 2018s have been some of his best sellers.

Finally, expect retailers who stay open to be inventive in marketing rose this year, including virtual tastings with their customers. Mata says he has already done three, and expects to do more.