Gains in wine sales at grocery stores during the pandemic will not make up for extraordinary losses at restaurants, hotels, stadiums and tasting rooms.
A new report issued Thursday by an industry analyst is projecting a loss of $437 million to California winegrape growers following the fall harvest. Wine sales are expected to decline by more than nine million cases over the course of the year.
The loss adds to an existing reduction in sales of nearly $400 million due to oversupply following a large crop in 2018.
“California growers are accustomed to cyclical markets, but the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to turn a down year into a financial catastrophe for many of them,” said John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers.
Santa Barbara County grower Mike Testa worried about the uncertainty many growers are facing over getting paid this year.
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“I’ve never seen so much uncertainty in the marketplace," he said. "It is essential that (USDA) recognizes the harm COVID-19 has caused our markets, and winegrape growers need to be included in the next round of financial assistance for agricultural producers.”