How Winetravelers Can Support the Winery, Restaurant and Travel Industries Amidst the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Crisis
I have written extensively about two cool climate wine regions here on Winetraveler – the Lake Michigan Shore AVA and the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. As a writer, part-time winery employee and student of wine, these regions have been an important part of my journey, as well as the Winetraveler.com story.
In these unprecedented times, I wanted to call attention to a way in which I plan to give back to the small businesses in these regions and to how you can too. Many wineries depend on tasting room traffic, and not surprisingly, that traffic falls off in the winter months – often severely on the cool climate wine trails. In most years, these small businesses set aside reserves to carry through these months knowing that business picks up as the temperatures rise. That time, however, typically begins now.
As many businesses, wineries, restaurants, shops and bars are closing either voluntarily or by mandate in the coming weeks, the income they depend on from customers, tasting room and/or café traffic will be severely impacted. The hourly workers, small teams and owners of these establishments, many of whom have brought us incredible wine or meals, conversation and good times, will now face unexpected hard times – as will many.
So, for those that are able, interested and looking for ways to help, I’ve laid out a few suggestions below to get us started. While it may not seem like a lot, every bottle or merchandise purchase from your favorite wineries and businesses in wine country can contribute vital support to these families during this time. While I’ll plan to start with my favorite wineries in the cool climates, wineries and wine country businesses will be impacted worldwide, so follow your heart and palate!
Ten Ways You Can Help
Order wine online – use this time to stock up on your favorites. Many wineries ship to neighboring states – and some even across the country. Check out their online stores to see if they ship to your neighborhood. Many wineries are offering special shipping discounts from free to flat rates to help mitigate shipping costs during this time.
Order wine for local pick-up – many wineries are offering club member pick-ups and local order pick-ups curb (or vineyard) side. Check websites for special offers or call in to place an order.
Purchase gift cards or wine club memberships – gift cards and wine club memberships make great gifts for those friends we may not see for a while, or even to keep for ourselves!
Stay in touch – follow your favorite wineries and businesses on social media for special offers, winemaker chats or virtual tastings. Connectedness can lift spirits and provide moral support. Or if your friends are in the industry, reach out and see if there’s a way you can help them personally (while keeping that social distance of course!).
Merchandise – many wineries, cafés and restaurants are creating special merchandise to sell for delivery. I’ve seen everything from creative t-shirts to care packages. And, of course, many small businesses already have merchandise for purchase – hats, t-shirts, glassware and books.
Donations – keep an eye out for organizations that help to support the restaurant, hospitality and wine industries. For example, the USBG National Charity Foundation has established an emergency relief fund to help bartenders (who rely heavily on tips) facing these unforeseen challenges. The USBG is currently collecting donations on its website. The Restaurant Workers Community Foundation is also creating a relief fund and numerous local and state organizations will be assisting as well.
Plan a future trip – While the future remains uncertain and we don’t yet know when extensive travel will again be possible, we do know it will be at some point. We are resilient! So why not use any extra time available now to plan your next trip, so that when things begin to settle we can again hit the road and bring life back to our favorite regions.
Create virtual tastings – whether you and your friends purchase the same wines, or perhaps it’s a Merlot tasting from regions around the world, use the technology we have available to share your tastings virtually. And don’t forget your local wine shops are a great source with many now offering curbside pick-up and delivery as well. (Winetraveler will be hosting at-home virtual tastings periodically on the app, Discord and Twitter as will some of our fellow contributors on Instagram – tune in @therealhousewine on Thursdays!)
Send a thank you or leave a review – Looking for a simple and inexpensive option, send your favorite business a thank you note or note of encouragement, or leave those complimentary reviews you never had time to do previously on Yelp, TripAdvisor, etc.
Spread the love – have a favorite wine or winery? Recommend them to your friends – over the phone, via social, or shout it from your balcony. Ha! Truly though, while many of us are traveling virtually these next few weeks, we also have stockpiles of past trips and favorite bottles – share those pictures, stories and sips. Who knows you could inspire someone’s next adventure!
Not all of us can or will want to contribute the same way, but I do encourage everyone to find something during this time that helps to lift others. Whatever you think up, and I know there’s no end to the Winetraveler community’s creativity, remember that no matter how small it may feel in the face of something so massive, it’s something to someone, somewhere. You can follow along with the community and see what we’re doing to help the industry on the app and our Facebook group as the crisis continues to evolve.