Like many industries, the food and beverage world has been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, online sales have proved a bright beacon for the wine industry, which saw a 224% increase in March 2020 from the year prior.

Since then, it’s been an adjustment period for those in the wine industry (and for those who like to enjoy wine). Our wine clients at Padilla and beyond have had to creatively pivot and redirect wine marketing plans, showing that nimbleness is key in continuing to support the wine trade and provide consumers with the respite of wine that is clearly wanted.

As we approach five hundred months of the pandemic, here are a few ways the wine industry – and wine market – have adapted:

Embracing Technology

A tech-conscious mindset has proved fruitful for the industry: as of July 2020, direct-to-consumer (DtC) shipments of wine have continued to post double-digit growth, with a 30% increase in sales compared to this time last year. Wineries embracing e-commerce are able to reach customers that are relying on online ordering of all in-home staples, wine included.

This time has also been an experiment in crafting engaging and entertaining virtual tastings for the trade and consumers. Tastings are an activity that makes more sense to experience in-person – but a move to virtual opens up opportunities to engage with professionals and destinations from all over the world. Transitioning to virtual tastings wasn’t smooth for all, but smart adapters have leveraged technology to stay connected to their audiences and help maintain sales (hello, DtC tasting kits!).  

We’re Still Celebrating

Now that we’re officially all “zoomed out,” eased restrictions and summer weather have brought an influx of the quintessential park hangout – usually complete with a bottle of wine (and, of course, masks and a safe social distance).

Summer is synonymous with “Rosé Season” and, in fact, rosé and sparkling wine sales have both increased by about 20% from July 2019 – meaning we still crave celebrations and are finding those moments, even if the celebration is making it through another week.

Cautious Re-Openings Encourage Local Love

Dictated by state re-opening rules, wineries have been able to open back up to the public but are adapting to keep their employees and visitors safe. Utilizing outdoor spaces has been key for many, with some wineries now allowing guests to walk around the grounds with their wine, offering an elevated social distance activity that also keeps their business afloat.

While wine tourism has generally encouraged travel to far-off destinations, current times mean that many are exploring nearby towns. It’s brought a sense of community and comradery for consumers and their local wineries, breweries and distilleries, offering a chance for people to visit places in their backyard they may never have dedicated time to before, while supporting industry in their cities and states.

Adapting quickly and creatively will continue to be crucial for the wine industry, but it’s promising to see that new avenues of connection have boded well for the wine industry – and that connecting over a glass (or two) of wine is something we all still desire.

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