Despite Big Impact, Warner Confident Washington Wineries Will Bounce Back From COVID-19

Wine is one of the sectors of the agriculture industry that has seen the most direct hit from social distancing practices because of the coronavirus outbreak. Tasting rooms across Washington have closed down amid Governor Jay Inslee’s Stay Home order, preventing consumers from the experience of wine tasting weekends.

However, as Steve Warner, President and CEO of the Washington state Wine Commission pointed out, customers can still purchase those great local wines, but it must be for pick up or delivery. Considering those tasting rooms are the backbone for wineries, large and small across the state, this stay in place order is painful. But, he noted wineries are not in it alone; and in many cases not taking the biggest losses. Because of that, some wineries state are trying to help out their friends in the restaurant industry.

“In a couple of examples, if you go to the tasting room to pick up your wine and you can show a take-out receipt from a restaurant, then they’ll give you an additional discount.  And that’s just to show the restaurant owner the restaurant workers that we’re in it with them, and we’re trying to do everything we can to help keep them afloat as we go through this change.”

Warner added wineries are surviving by moving to on-line and digital marketing, to go orders and in some cases deliveries. He said wineries are already adapting to the six foot space and sanitation requirement meaning they will become a natural part of everyday operations going forward. The biggest change he expects will be outdoor events, noting it’s going to take some time before elbow to elbow concerts return.

His message to consumers right now?

“But they need to continue to push the beauty of eastern Washington, the fun that can come out of tasting rooms, their pivotal in the success of the industry overall.  So, my message for them overall would be to have some understanding as this is not going to be like a light switch, it’s going to take a little bit of time before we’re back to where we were when this all happened.”

Warner added he’s very happy to see how the Washington community has rallied around wineries, helping out these local businesses.

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