When vintage events were canceled in September, winemakers hoped the situation would improve in the fall. They placed their hopes especially in the traditional St. Martin’s basket. However, current coronavirus measures to ban the gathering of more than six people have made them impossible. In addition, restaurants are closed from Wednesday, where winemakers often distribute their drinks. Some manufacturers are therefore only at 50 percent of normal sales.
The situation will hit medium and small wineries the hardest. “I usually sell a lot of wine from the cellar during tastings. But I had to renounce them because of coronavirus. There are no customers, “complains the operator of a small family winery Jan Koubek. During the coronavirus crisis, he began selling wines through the e-shop. “My sales are about half this year than usual. The internet didn’t save me. I will only sell the minimum there, “Koubek added.
The winemakers were thwarted by plans and closed restaurants, where they normally distribute. Therefore, they started targeting large retail chains and wine shops. “I get offers almost every day. In total, there are about twenty of them a month, “said Pavel Nešpůrek, the operator of the Brno wine shop. However, stone shops have their limits and cannot take wines from every winemaker who comes.
In addition, this distribution option only partially solves the problem. “There is huge competition in the shops, which is why it is not so profitable for us,” said the owner of the winery in Mikulov, Pavel Mayer. Winemakers have to make discounts cheaper due to low sales. “I saw that wines were sold for 45 crowns. But I don’t want to do that. It won’t pay off for me, “added Mayer.
A broken sales chain will affect all winemakers. “So far, we generally estimate a drop in sales of more than 30 percent compared to last year. But I’m afraid it will be even worse, “said Jaroslav Machovec, director of the Czech Wine Fund.
In addition, according to Mayer, the sale of wines has completely stopped in the last three weeks. “They are not tourists, and since we sell mainly from the cellar, no one buys anything from us,” said Mayer. He created some supplies of young wine, such as St. Martin’s, in advance. Nevertheless, he expects losses. “We usually sell a thousand bottles, this year I will symbolically distribute around 300 of them,” added a winemaker from Mikulov.
According to wine producers, the most profitable months are November and December, due to tastings, Christmas parties and large wine events, such as the traditional St. Martin’s festivities. However, the organizers had to cancel these events this year. “We are very sorry, but due to the current situation, it is really not possible to organize outdoor events where thousands of people will be tasting wines,” said Machovec.
Every wine that a winemaker wants to present as a St. Martin must have a trademark. “This means that the wine has been inspected by the commission. It determines whether the drink meets the parameters that are given for St. Martin wines. They are made in an accelerated process, they are lighter, fresher and more fruity, “explained the president of the Czech Winegrowers Association, Tibor Nyitray.
It can be expected that there will be less interest in stamps than in previous years. “This year we will enter three wines as St. Martin’s. Together we calculate that it will be 18 to 20 thousand bottles. That is about ten thousand bottles less than last year, “said Milan Sedlák from the Sedlák family winery. Winemakers are afraid that there will be no sales, and therefore they adapt supply to demand. “They don’t know if they would use the wines, so they don’t apply for the mark. The wine will not spoil, it will stay, but it will not go to the counters like St. Martin’s, “Machovec added.
People have no choice but to celebrate the feast of St. Martin only at home in a family circle. “I believe that a well-baked goose with St. Martin’s wine will taste good at home,” Nyitray added.