The Bourgogne Wine Sector Stands Ready — New Working Practices on Estates to Face the Health Crisis

Since France has ground to a near-halt under Covid-19 confinement measures, growers and négociants in Bourgogne have continued to work, introducing some ingenuity. This is essential because the vines continue to grow; there is work to be done in the cellar, and because one also has to think about when normal business resumes. In Bourgogne, growers and négociants are adhering to strict safe distancing measures both in the vines and the winery.

Activity accelerating in the vines

The hashtag #LaVigneContinue exists for a good reason: Nature cannot be confined! Especially in the springtime, when the sap rises, and the buds emerge from their downy cocoons. In each plot, there is work to be done. The cuttings must be cleared after pruning, trellising must be repaired, the canes need tying up, the ground needs plowing. After budburst, the excess buds and suckers will need to be removed.

Growers and négociants in Bourgogne are continuing to work as far as possible and adapting to the situation. Nicolas Rossignol, in Gevrey-Chambertin, has reorganized his team: “I have asked everyone to use their personal vehicle to get around. In the vines, it is one to a plot, or else we leave two or three rows between us (2 to 3m) if we have to work in the same place. In addition to tying up and fixing trellising, we are also starting to plow. I have two tractors, so each driver has their own.”

And for a touch of local ingenuity, he reveals that instead of using commercial hand-sanitizer, he dug out some of the “head” distillation liquid from a batch of marc de Bourgogne. “It’s around 80% alcohol, so it’s ideal for disinfecting hands and equipment. In the same vein, we no longer eat together. Since we’ve had fine weather, everyone has lunch outside. You just have to go one at a time into the kitchen to reheat your dish.”

There are some unexpected obstacles to manage, such as hiring a seasonal worker to make up for the absence of an employee who has to stay at home to look after children while the schools are closed.

In wineries that have larger teams of staff, managers have also had to adapt. With 10 or more employees, flexibility is the order of the day. Working times are staggered to avoid encountering coworkers, and those who are partially occupied looking after children come into work when they can, including on weekends. Nicolas Rossignol concludes: “The growth cycle has begun, although the cold which came at the start of last week slowed it a little. But overall, we are working at the same pace as usual.”

Complex adaptation for shipments

During this season, activity in the cellar is calmer. The wines are in the middle of aging, and the main task is topping up barrels. This only usually requires one person. Other lower-priority tasks can wait.

The area of bottling, labeling, and shipping poses another set of challenges. Some companies are carrying on, anticipating that others will resume activity a fortnight from now. But whatever the task, managers are attentive to maintaining safe distances between employees, and respecting all the recommendations from the Ministry of Health. The essential thing is looking after the health of staff.

On the commercial front, there are fewer orders than usual. Some transporters continue to make deliveries, while certain international orders have been put on one side, ready to go as soon as international transport resumes.

“We know the current situation is only temporary, and we are ready to respond to increased demand as soon as it comes,” said Louis-Fabrice Latour, President of the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) and CEO of the Louis Latour wine house. “Managers of wineries and estates are keeping a close eye on when normal production activity can resume, whilst ensuring the health and safety of all concerned.”

On behalf of the whole wine sector, he added: “We are aware of all the efforts being made, on all levels, for France to emerge from this health crisis as quickly and in the best shape possible. We will contribute to this return to normal. We are also greatly appreciative of all of those who are taking care of us and our families.”

The Hand-Sanitizer Manufacturing Exchange Is Launched in Canada

Cosmetics Alliance Canada, the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association and Spirits Canada today launched the Hand-Sanitizer Manufacturing Exchange as part of their efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Hand-sanitizers have been recognized as one of the effective tools in combatting the transfer of the COVID-19 virus and a measure that can be easily and safely utilized by everyone in stopping the spread of this disease.

“Our three organizations have come together to aid in faster, safer and effective scale-up of hand-sanitizer production across Canada”, said Cosmetics Alliance Canada CEO, Darren Praznik.

“People are coming together to do what they can in this crisis but Canadians need access to safe products. DIY hand-sanitizers, the latest trend on social media is at best ineffective against COVID-19 and at worst potentially dangerous. We pledge to do our best to ensure that Canadians have an adequate supply of safe and effective hand-sanitizer for you and your family,” says Shannon Coombs, President of CCSPA.

Developed in collaboration with Health Canada, the Exchange provides a single platform where firms interested in making hand-sanitizer or contributing to its manufacture will be able to exchange information to locate available materials, services or manufacturing capacity needed for production.

The initiative parallels Health Canada action expediting approvals of companies interested in making hand-sanitizer, a product regulated under Health Canada’s Natural Health Product Regulations, part of Canada’s Food and Drugs Act.

The Exchange reminds all interested parties that they should consult Health Canada’s March 242020 bulletin outlining how hand-sanitizer products and the companies making them may seek expedited approvals.

Jan Westcott, CEO of Spirits Canada noted that “As governments all across Canada are mobilizing to ensure the supply of critical medical equipment and health products, we and our Cosmetics and Consumer Specialty Products partners are pleased to be able to do our part in helping with the disinfectant component of the fight.”

Joining the three Exchange developers are the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) who will host the Exchange on their website.

Websites:

Cosmetics Alliance Canada – https://www.cosmeticsalliance.ca/

Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association- http://www.ccspa.org/

Spirits Canada – https://www.spiritscanada.ca/

Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters – https://cme-mec.ca/

 

Ontario Adopts Temporary Measures to Support Bars, Restaurants and Alcohol Retailers During COVID-19 

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has announced a number of temporary measures to support local businesses in Ontario that have been significantly impacted by the spread of COVID-19.

Effective immediately, licensed restaurants and bars in Ontario will be allowed to sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders between the hours of 9:00 am and 11:00 pm. All active liquor licensees may immediately begin offering this service if they choose and there is no application process or fee required. Liquor may be sold for takeout or delivery through a third party, such as a food delivery service or ordering platform, provided they are acting on behalf of the licensee.

Additionally, the AGCO is temporarily allowing authorized grocery stores and liquor manufacturer retail stores to begin selling alcohol as of 7:00 am in order to support early shopping programs for vulnerable people and to provide greater flexibility to retail stores. The temporary extension of hours also provides greater flexibility for all alcohol retail stores to choose their hours of sale to meet public health objectives. Consumers are encouraged to confirm operating hours with retailers.

The AGCO is also extending by three months the term of all active liquor, gaming and cannabis licences, authorizations and registrations during this extraordinary situation. In all cases, licensees do not need to do anything. Existing licences will simply remain in effect for the extended period, at no additional cost.

“Everyone at the AGCO is concerned for the individuals, families, businesses and communities affected by this virus. We are working closely with the Government of Ontario to find ways of supporting Ontarians and the sectors we regulate during these challenging times” states Jean Major, Registrar and CEO, AGCO.

Vinitaly postponed to April 18-21 2021

This week Veronafiere announced Vinitaly 2020 was canceled, made in agreement with representatives of Vinitaly’s partner associations, which are listed below.

Sol&Agrifood and Enolitech shows, which are held in conjunction with Vinitaly, and have also been rescheduled to 18-21 April 2021.

Commenting on the massive economic impact of Covid-19 for the exhibition business in Europe, president of Veronafiere, Maurizio Danese said that the cost would run into billions of euros.

He said, “We must bear in mind that this situation has a massively disruptive impact on the European exhibition industry. To date, more than 200 events have been rescheduled, with an overall loss of almost 6 billion euros and 51,400 jobs at risk, not to mention all businesses related to this industry and the loss of 39 billion euros in exports for SMEs in Europe generated by international trade shows.”

Giovanni Mantovani, CEO of Veronafiere, said that once the health emergency in Italy caused by Covid-19 had subsided he would be embarking on a “renaissance” for the show, which he had thought would be possible in June this year.

He commented, “The health crisis, as everyone can see, has become distinctly worse and what seemed possible out the outset is no longer so now.”

Continuing he said, “In agreement with supply chain organizations, Vinitaly, Sol&Agrifood and Enolitech will, therefore, take place next year.”

He also stated his intention to grow Vinitaly’s international business and create a new event later this year for the show’s partner organizations.

“In addition to implementing special investments in international events such as Vinitaly Chengdu, Vinitaly China Road Show, Wine South America (23-25 September 2020), Vinitaly Russia (26 and 28 October 2020), Vinitaly Hong Kong (5-7 November 2020 ) and Wine To Asia (9-11 November 2020), as well as initiatives organized by the Vinitaly International Academy, we will be at the complete disposition of the sector and promotion system to consider the development of an innovative event next Autumn at the service of sector companies.”

The calendar for the main events organized directly by Veronafiere or third parties affected by changes is given below.

EVENT – ITALY DATE IN SHOW CALENDAR NEW DATE
Model Expo Italy – Elettroexpo 7–8 March 2020 21-22 November 2020
SportExpo 6–8 March 2020 Postponed to a date to be defined
Samoter – Asphaltica – ICCX Southern Europe 16-20 May 2020 21-25 October 2020
LetExpo 16-20 May 2020 Postponed to a date to be defined
Automotive Dealer Day: 19-21 May 2020 15-17 September 2020
Veronafil 22-24 May 2020 21-23 May 2021
Verona Mineral Show Geo Business 22-24 May 2020 21-23 May 2021
Vinitaly – Sol&Agrifood – Enolitech 14-17 June 2020 18-21 April 2021
Opera Wine 13 June 2020 17 April 2021
Vinitaly and the City 12-15 June 2020 16-19 April 2021
Innovabiomed: 15-16 June 2020 Postponed to a date to be defined
Art Verona 16-18 October 2020 11-13 December 2020
Oil&NonOil 20-22 October 2020 21-23 October 2020

 

EVENT – INTERNATIONAL DATE IN SHOW CALENDAR NEW DATE
Vinitaly Chengdu 22–25 March 2020 Postponed to July 2020
Fieragricola Morocco @Siam 14–19 February 2020 Canceled
Living Italy @Design Shanghai 12–15 March 2020 26-29 May 2020
Bellavita Expo Warsaw 21-23 April 2020 30 June-2 July 2020
Vinitaly China Road Show 15-19 June 2020 Postponed
Bellavita Expo Hamburg 20-24 June 2020 12–16 March 2021

Vinitaly partner associations and their representatives include:

  • Ernesto Abbona, President of the Italian Wine Union
  • Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, President of Federdoc
  • Riccardo Cotarella, President of Assoenologi
  • Sandro Boscaini, President of Federvini
  • Luca Rigotti, wine sector coordinator for Alleanza Cooperative
  • Matilde Poggi, President of the Italian Federation of Independent Wine-Growers

Sources:
Veronafiere and Drinks Business

Global Wine Experts Describe Impact of Turbulence Ahead

Wine Intelligence’s global expert network on the impact of Coronavirus: ‘Christmas trading’ in Italian supermarkets amid a gloomy outlook, calm in Brazil and South Africa, fewer Chinese tourists in Australia, silver linings in South Korea, growing concern in the UK and US

How are consumers behaving in your market?

AUSTRALIA: The most noticeable element is that we have seen declining cellar door sales as the normal influx of Chinese tourists during Spring Festival failed to appear. So far the on-premise sales in Australia seem to be holding up.

BRAZIL: Compared to Europe, Brazilians seem to be less scared. Carnival was 2 weeks ago and there hasn’t been much of an impact. Regular people don’t seem to be changing habits, apart from a few people wearing masks on the streets. Some companies are taking measures to isolate employees – McKinsey, for instance, have shut down their offices in São Paulo, because their neighboring office had one suspected case.

ITALY: The first and most striking event was the assault on supermarkets by people filling their trolleys with pasta, sauces, mineral water, and other goods for fear of being out of stock. The director of an important Italian wine & spirits group, who had recently spoken to the manager of a retail chain, confirmed to me how in recent weeks the points of sale of large retailers have made a turnover close to that of Christmas. For the tourism industry, the crisis period started two weeks ago, with an average of 80% of cancellations (especially of foreign tourists), which has led many hotels to close temporarily. More generally, the on-trade channel is now beginning to suffer, both due to the reduction of customers and as a result of government measures to discourage too close socialization opportunities (in quarantined areas the on-trade premises must close the shutters at 6 pm).

SOUTH AFRICA: Probably too early to tell, but so far it doesn’t seem as if there is a major change. I am hearing that wine tourism is suffering a bit, which will obviously impact on cellar door wine sales. We are a bit behind the curve and possibly the fact that it’s summer has also helped.

SOUTH KOREA: We know the damage to consumer confidence is big. But it is not easy to say how much right now. People are avoiding seeing each other face to face, so socializing is not really happening. Similarly, face to face business meetings are not happening – salespeople are not so welcome at their clients’ bars, restaurants or shops. There are not many people on the streets – not many cars either.

SPAIN: So far, everything seems the same. Masks were bought long ago but people haven´t gone in for the “toilet paper craze” as in other places.

USA: Restaurants and bars are already feeling the impact as people are going out less. On the whole, the on-premise will take a much bigger hit. People are already eating out and going out to bars less. On the other hand, I could see this helping online ordering services like Drizly and Minibar and in food, Grubhub and Delivery.com, as people stay in more and order in more. I saw a post on Facebook recently that someone had shared about Postmates advertising a “no-touch” service or something to that degree to further allay any concerns.

We’re yet to see event cancellations, but that could be just a matter of time. The big issue in a market like Las Vegas is that in addition to both domestic and international tourists, we rely heavily on delegates who attend the many large-scale conferences here – Linda Crisman, Regional Manager Western USA, Jackson Family Wines

UK: On the surface, it feels like there isn’t much dramatic change. London’s Tube is still packed at rush hour, and hardly anyone seems to be wearing masks. We’re hearing from on-premise that bookings are down on normal for the time of year, and events businesses are getting particularly nervous as clients are deferring decisions until the last minute. The news seems to move so fast; it feels a lot easier to defer rather than decide.

What are your predictions for the wine category for the remainder of 2020?

AUSTRALIA: The effects will last long after the virus has peaked – consumers will be spending more cautiously both domestically and in key export markets. The tourism business is still dealing with the after-effects of the fires, so it will be a while before we see a return to normal. From the export point of view we are hoping that some of the excess supply in China will be sold through towards the Mid-Autumn Festival period. Vintage forecasts from ABARES (national commodity forecaster) is predicting a below-average vintage size which will help offset the fall in demand.

ITALY: It will be the most difficult period since the methanol scandal in 1985. Our inbound tourism industry has done so well in the past few years that it has reversed the long term trend of consumption decline in the domestic market – we will have to wait a while for international tourist numbers to recover. I am sure that once the emergency is resolved, perhaps with the summer season, the domestic Italian consumer will resume their love story with the aperitifs and the various socialization occasions. Until then, I foresee some difficulties for wine businesses, especially small ones, which have focused on an important part of their sales on the cellar door and have grown reliant on international tourists.

SPAIN: We´ve still to see the worst effects but the summer will approach fast and here it will help reduce conditions that favor contagion. The big question will be whether the tourists show up in their normal numbers.

SOUTH AFRICA: I think the major global grocery retail businesses will be extremely cautious in their ordering pattern against the current scenario. In the local market, we may see some sales lost from people not attending large gatherings/restaurants etc as much, and we expect the conference industry to take a hit. Wine tourism will take a while to recover because leisure trips to South Africa are often planned a long way in advance, and we may not see the full extent of the effect for a year or more.

SOUTH KOREA: Companies in the sector are planning on 20-30% declines in their sales vs their original plan for the year. People are not going to the shops – they prefer on-line shopping. In Korea, we cannot sell wine online yet, but we understand that the government will allow online sales of wine temporarily, maybe as soon as April – it will only be click-and-collect, not full delivery, at least not yet. But it is a good start. I expect that, sooner or later, maybe within the next couple of years, the online wine market will be opened up.

UK: So far the government is resisting imposing restrictions on the public, but this will change soon. We understand the medical experts are expecting the peak of infections in the UK in about 6-8 weeks’ time, at which point restrictions may start to be lifted. Supermarkets will do just fine, but it’s the on-premise, hotels and events companies which will have a hole in their revenues – somewhere around 15% of their annual sales – which won’t be made up in this calendar year.

We haven’t seen anything change yet from a retail sales perspective as yet, but we have already seen a drop off in Travel Retail (ferries, airports). Supply has been rather lumpy as shipping lines have had to adapt their schedules to China and Singapore port closures. Looking ahead I’d say that the [UK] On Trade is in for a tough time, clearly festival volumes are up in the air and in retail, I’d expect local small stores to do well – Simon Lawson, General Manager, Casella Family Brands (Europe) Ltd, UK.

USA: The big unanswered question for Americans is how bit the outbreak will get. We are losing faith in the government response – it seems very slow and complacent, and who knows how many confirmed cases we will have when the virus testing gets to a sensible number [estimated at <3,000 tests completed as of 9 March]. When events like Indian Wells [major tennis tournament in California] are canceled, it feels like we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

Source:  Wine Intelligence