As we all start to take serious steps of coming out of lockdown, The Buyer has switched its Covid-19 Hub updates service to a new weekly format to help the trade keep up to date with the very latest activity, trends and insights across the drinks, retail and hospitality sectors as momentum builds towards opening up more areas of business we will look to share more knowledge and tools to help you do that. This is Part Seven of The Buyer’s Covid-19 blog kicking off all the activity in what is going to be a vital month for the UK drinks and hospitality sectors.
Running a business through Lockdown is hard enough in the UK but how does it work if you are an Englishman running a large wine business in France? Tim Ford, managing director of Languedoc estate Domaine Gayda explains how he has handled télétravail (working from home) and Chômage Partiel (furlough), keeping his export markets open and working on the new harvest. And also how impressive and fast the help has been from the French government.
The UK wine industry is in danger of sleep walking into what could be a “disaster” if it does not come together now to shout, lobby and force the government to rip up the current trading practices it is set to introduce when the UK leaves the EU at the end of the year. That was the stark – if not frightening – message from a joint webinar this week held by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association and Liv-ex, the global marketplace for wine. Richard Siddle assesses why the introduction of a series of complex and hugely expensive new ways of trading with the EU could result in a massive loss in business, and some sectors – noticeably fine wine – drying up completely due to the red tape and costs involved.
When Janet Harrison launched the People’s Choice Wine Awards in 2017 she promised to bring fresh thinking to what was already a cluttered wine awards sector. By getting everyday actual wine drinkers involved in deciding which wines ended up with a medal it has lived up to its billing. Now she wants to do extend the collaborative approach of the awards to the trade with her new TAP – Trade Advisory Panel – initiative that has brought together a wide range of professional talent from all sectors of the industry who are willing to share their expertise by helping others bring new projects to life. Here’s how it is going to work.
One learning from lockdown could be that we think twice about ‘disposable’ international travel when Zoom or a webinar could suffice. But will this extend to visiting a wine region? Jess Lamb was a passenger on the first virtual press trip to the Lebanon and says that, despite being an advocate of physical press trips, her experience led her to think that in many cases this could work well as a substitute, especially with the reduced costs, time, travel commitments and carbon emissions.
“This change has to come from the top. You can’t just talk the talk, you also have to walk the walk. If you keep doing the same things, hiring the same people, using the same methodology, you will continue to get the same outcomes.” Hard but fair words from Kirsten MacLeod who examines the issue of racial diversity and inclusion in the wine industry and says it has a very long way to go and many lessons to learn, and actions to take.
The news today that Sogevinus has acquired historic estate Quinta da Boavista from Lima Smith further strengthens its position on still Duoro wines and exports. The wine group has long had a strategic focus on still wines – arguing for Portuguese wine producers to market with an united front and around a single grape – and the Boavista deal follows a long line of interesting acquisitions and product launches. Justin Keay spoke to Sogevinus CEO Sergio Marly Cominal and the rest of the team about what the plans are post-Covid.
It’s been fascinating to see how over the last couple of months how different business leaders across the drinks and hospitality sectors have responded to the Covid-19 crisis that has hit them all both as individuals and heads of the companies they manage. Troy Christensen, chief executive of Enotria&Coe, brought a fresh perspective to the situation when The Buyer interviewed him earlier this month. On the one hand he faced up to the nightmare scenario that has meant 90% of its usual revenues have been put in the deep freeze, due to the on-trade being closed, in typically bullish manner. But he also demonstrated how, as a company and as a sector, the drinks distribution network can recover, by how quickly it has turned its focus to growing the digital side of its business, through its own retail arm, Great Western Wines, and by linking up with the vast number of B2B turned B2C platforms that have emerged over the last three months.
You might not know at the time that you are drinking a wine from Romania’s Cramele Recas, but chances are that at some time or other you will be. The country’s largest winery is responsible for many of the UK’s best-selling wines with a unique and effective consumer-centric approach – they make wine with the right quality level, attention to detail and price then ensure it reaches its target market with packaging that is bespoke for every on and off trade customer. Peter Dean travelled to Romania to see the set-up first hand, and also picks some standout wines and how they work with a range of dishes.
The combination of strong winds coming in off the ocean, with quality soils helps the Wölffer Estate Vineyard produce its signature, balanced, elegant, and age-worthy wines – with a particular focus on making premium rosés. As we continue our series profiling leading New York State wineries we talk to Roman Roth, winemaker at the estate, about being able to make food-friendly, accessible wines that also have the ability to age and improve with time.