The fourth lockdown in Victoria because of Covid-19 is just “another kick in the guts” for the state’s wineries and hospitality industry.
“We survived the first lockdown with government help in the form of the Job Keeper and the stimulus packages,” The Hanging Rock Winery managing director John Ellis says.
“Then came China… now, lockdown again.
“Another week of normal trading gone.
“We can see the cliff ….
“If the lockdown is more than a week, it has the potential to be catastrophic.
“A week of no cellar door or restaurant sales will affect us, but if it goes on there is only so much we can stand.”
John says they had been celebrated the conclusion of a very good – “if not great” – vintage.
“It was smaller than usual because we were forced to cancel grapes that would have supplied our China sales,” he says.
“China was 40 percent of our business, and fortunately we did not get caught with wine on the water or bottled in warehouses.
“The tanks were, and still are, full.
“Unable to refill them, our growers are hurting as much as we and our Chinese importers are.
“Like everyone else, we are looking elsewhere. A tough job.
“It took 25 years of hard work to create a market for our wine in China. It cannot be replaced overnight.
“Since the ring of steel came down, our visitation and direct sales have boomed.
“We have pivoted, invested in the cellar door experience and direct marketing.
“We have been rewarded. It has gone some way to filling the void left by China.
“We hope, for obvious reasons, that the lockdown is very temporary.”
• This article was first published in our Friday e-bulletin The Week That Was.