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The Australian Wine Industry Has Come Too Far to Stop Pedalling

By Tuesday 31 March 2020No Comments

The Barossa community is feeling it.

Most of a group of 20 US tourists there recently have tested positive for coronavirus. Another two were negative and a couple waiting for their test results snuck out of The Louise and skipped the country.

Two staff at Lyndoch Hill & Barossa Chateau also have coronavirus; it’s not known if this is related to the Americans. In good news, six staff tested negative.

People are on edge.

Kies Family Wines in Lyndoch closed its cellar door on Monday but reopened yesterday for sales between 10am and 1pm with a beautiful little wine display out the front; no cash, no queues.

A ‘frontline health worker’ posted on Facebook, “I totally disagree with this. What part of stay-at-home don’t people understand. You are putting your customers, yourselves and me at risk.”

Mount Edward Winery in NZ had a crack at GTW magazine for posting beautiful vintage pix on Instagram.

“Bad optics and highly insensitive when millions are being forced to close their businesses and we are part of the privileged few. Now is the time to shut up not shout out.”

Not sure about that.

I’m over the dramatised graphics of the hideous coronavirus molecule.

The Don got us through The Depression and Colombard can help us through coronavirus.

A Crystal Brook baker in self-isolation went on Facebook to ask locals to stop spreading rumours he was still at work. “Shame on you,” he said.

It’s testing friendships.

Robert Joseph tweeted, “The way individuals and companies behave right now won’t be forgotten.”

The industry must keep pedalling.

We have come too far in a short space of time to stop.

There are grapes still to be picked and orders to be filled and future plans to think about.

Online wine sales are booming like Christmas is coming. With on-premise sales collapsing, most wineries – yes even the mighty Yalumba – are scrambling for direct sales.

Looking back over twenty years in wine one thing stands out: the generosity of the industry. A donation of a dozen Riesling for the Wild Horse Plains quiz night? Easy. Two dozen for the Iron Knob pigeon-racing ball? Fine. An industry-wide fundraising drive for the guy down on his luck? We can arrange that.

If every person who has benefitted from wineries supported them through this it would make a difference and would mean a lot.

It’s serious: NZ has shut its alcohol outlets.

It’s sad hearing about people being let go.

Wine Australia boss Andreas Clark has had to make tough calls.

Max Allen tweeted, “After 16 years, my wine and drinks column in Gourmet Traveller magazine has been ‘paused’ until further notice.”

The industry is calling for tax breaks. We’ll need it.

Winemakers are using video to stay in touch.

Our beautiful industry – kinda shy and understated in a way – has never really been big on all the whiz-bang digital tools at our disposal.

That’s all changed in two weeks.

There’s no going back.

That’s exciting.

Brendan and Laura Carter from Unico Zelo are hosting a Facebook show at 5pm each day. It’s a modern-day version of the cheer-up huts that appeared after the wars. Brendan is excellent in front of the camera. There’s a bit of Dr Chris Brown about him.

Who knows where this will lead for Unico Zelo?

Without wanting to make light of what is ahead of us all, TWTW is already thinking about how the wine industry rebound and rebuild might look.

We asked our lawyer from The Castle for advice on what we should do next. It was the best twenty-five bucks I’ve ever spent. He just said “F**k it – keep going.”

And we will.

And we hope you do too.

This article first appeared in our Friday ebulletin The Week That Was. To subscribe click here.

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