It would be misleading to say the international wine world is reeling from the ongoing (and going and going and ...) coronavirus pandemic, but impacts from COVID-19 are undeniably being felt.
Among the casualties are the world’s two largest wine trade shows, Prowein in Düsseldorf, Germany, and VinItaly in Verona, Italy.
Prowein, where last year upward of 6,800 exhibitors attracted more than 58,500 attendees, canceled its appearance this year, originally scheduled March 15–17. Show producer Messe Düsseldorf announced that Prowein will reappear next on March 21–23, 2021.
“We have taken this decision in in-depth dialogue with our partner associations and key players in the industry,” said Erhard Wienkamp, managing director at Messe Düsseldorf GmbH. “The special challenge here was there is only a very tight ‘trade fair window’ open for the wine industry — one which is additionally narrowed down by the insecure situation created by the coronavirus.”
Meanwhile, the producers of Vin- Italy, which as part of that annual trade-show window closely follows Prowein, didn’t cancel, at least not outright, but adopted a wait-and-hope-for-the-best attitude by rescheduling this year’s fair to June 14–17.
Last year’s VinItaly attracted more than 145,000 spectators from 45 countries, but concerns that American and other wine buyers would be kept away by what is and isn’t known about coronavirus factored heavily in the decision.
The first week of March, the Washington State Wine Commission (Washington is one of the epicenters of COVID-19) canceled Taste Washington, a four-day festival in Seattle that last year attracted a record attendance of 8,479 wine lovers.
And in California’s wine country, one resort hotel reported more than $500,000 in lost revenue for March because of coronavirus-related cancellations.
If the pandemic lingers for a couple months, which seems entirely possible after the head-in-the-sand initial response by American officials, other attendance-heavy events such as the Aspen Food and Wine Classic (set for June 19–21) may be forced to rethink scheduling.
But June is a long way off, and currently there are no reasons to change your plans.
Tasting rooms and wineries across Europe and the United States are being cautioned about additional cleanliness and preventive measures; signs everywhere urge us to “wash your hands” well and often.
As it’s being demonstrated in Italy, wine-based tourism, like Henry Wads- worth’s little girl with the curl right in the middle of her forehead, can at times be very, very good and at times can be horrid.
When things go well, the economy sings but when a novel virus attacks, normally crowded streets, stadiums and airports are desolate, and “closed for vacation” signs are seen in growing numbers.
Wait staffs, food service and other workers are feeling the pinch since most of them don’t receive paid days off for sick leave.
With more people staying home as a result of prohibitions on large gatherings or what’s increasingly common, self-imposed isolation, restaurants and bars may see changes in how they do business.
Recently, Alex Garden, chief executive officer of Zume Inc., a pizza- innovation supplier, told Ron Ruggless of Nation’s Restaurant News that he (Garden) expects a “fundamental shift” in how most Americans view home delivery.
“I think we are going to see a massive change toward delivery in the next probably six to eight weeks,” Garden told Ruggless. “It’s not going anywhere.”
Which also may be said by those in isolation.
Which in turn reminds me that a bill allowing Utahns to join home-delivery wine clubs recently advanced out of that state’s House of Representatives and awaits action by the Senate.
So for now, the COVID-19 watch continues. Panic-buying won’t help, self-proclaimed medical geniuses won’t help, even stockpiling (it’s called hoarding) won’t help.
You could, however, look in your cellar and dig out that bottle of wine you’ve been saving for that “special occasion.”
What’s more special than right now?
And don’t forget to wash your hands.