By Doug Fabbioli
Clearly our springtime work on the farm has been a bit disrupted by the current circumstances of the pandemic and how our lifestyles have changed. Our vibrant rural economy, focused on hospitality and tourism, has been dropped on its head. The business owners, managers, association heads and politicians have been talking, adjusting and creating new ways to do business. We know that our guests will be allowed to return, but making it through to that point is critical for the continuation of the industry.
One of the big changes that the state government did for us was to lighten up a bit on the delivery options for our products. Local spirits can now be shipped, wine can be delivered to your door by the winery and mixed drinks can be purchased to go from your local pub. It was important that the state recognized how important the local “adult beverage” industry is to its citizens and keeping them functioning as best they can through these times. The ability for producers to get their products to the customers in a save and cost effective way, allows the cash to continue to flow so we can keep farming.
There was already Grub Hub and Uber Eats in the community before, but now we are seeing the local farmers getting together with the wineries and creating unique packages of products that can be delivered to your door. If you can’t come to visit Lucketts, we can deliver a taste of Lucketts to you. Fresh meats, produce, eggs and wine along with a recipe or two that will make your home stay a little less ordinary. Sunset Hills Vineyard is putting together a date night kit with wine, foods local chocolates and playing cards, delivered by DiVine Wine Tours, one of our wine county tour groups. Some other wineries, like Breaux Vineyards, are stocking home products that you may need, so when you come to pick up your wine, you can get your toilet paper as well.
The virtual tastings have been stepping up immensely. Although many are doing them, Walsh Family Wines seem to have taken the lead with these efforts. A winery will promote a date, ship out the wines that will be tasted, and then do a “Zoom” or live stream tasting with the winemaker or owner. I have seen requests from customers who want to do private virtual tastings as a birthday celebration or just a great reason for friends and family to gather virtually. If you can do it for a meeting at work, you can use that technology for entertainment and socializing as well.
As for myself, I have used this change in lifestyle to focus more on agriculture and our farming team. Our vineyard team has continued to work, (it’s springtime on the farm after all) but we meet more often to review safe procedures and working conditions. We also talk about their families and neighbors more, as I want them to continue to work through this and help others that may need help. We have greatly expanded our vegetable plantings so we have more produce available for ourselves and our customers. The farmers were the first entrepreneurs and that continues today. The key is to grow the products that will be needed by the consumers and getting them to the consumer when it’s time. Wine buys us time, but other products have their own timing needs or process.
This is a time to use what you have to repurpose, reinvent, address needs and be flexible. As some businesses are retooling their operations to fill a need, we will adjust what we can and remain true to our roots. Our business has been based on commitment to the land, the team/family that gets us through all of our projects, the customers that enthusiastically support us, and making great quality wines year in and year out. We shall continue to serve, it just may be in a little different model for a bit. Thanks for continuing to support our local hospitality and agriculture businesses. We look forward to sharing time with you again. “We built this for you!”