Sales of small wine rose during the corona virus blockade, with some claiming “busier than Christmas” thanks to local support.
Some wineries in and west of Auckland say they have seen a significant increase in online sales, but some have no choice but to apply for government assistance to help their business.
Soljans Estate Winery in Kumeu said that despite the blockade, online sales were much better than expected.
Tyler Solyan said the company receives at least four to five orders a day from customers, some in Bluff at the foot of South Island.
“The reality is that most have stopped. Our restaurant work has stopped, our cafe is closed,” Soljan said.
“But our online sales have increased and are more stressful than Christmas. Meanwhile, every sale is good,” Soljan said.
Soljans is one of the six West Auckland wineries that came together during the blockade.
Known collectively as Wineries Out West, the group also includes Babich Wines, Coopers Creek Winery, Kumeū Wines, The Hunting Lodge Winery, and Westerbrook Winery.
Suzanne Jones of Westbrook Winery said that sales at the venue were devastated by the closure and everyone felt the crisis because they were dependent on the hotel and restaurant industry.
“Increasing online sales is only part of the way to overcome overall loss of sales,” Jones said.
“Before the freeze, they were still very strong because we had fun after the summer and these sales were higher than online sales.”
Wineries Out West works to overcome its losses by promoting online sales, offering customers special wine and free shipping.
Online sales have increased 400 to 500 percent in the past two weeks, comparable to sales during the traditional Christmas season, Jones said.
“A significant percentage of online sales come from customers who usually go to the underground door to shop directly,” he said.
“We are pleased that so many people in our community chose to support the local population by buying our wine online.”
He said smaller wineries such as Wines Out West could handle online sales quickly and effectively sending couriers without contact to customers, far faster than supermarkets and other bottle shops.
“Usually around this time, businesses with our open cellars, restaurants and cafes are booming. We will all enjoy a very big Easter weekend.”
Overall, income for their wineries is significantly lower – more than the 30% threshold for wage subsidies, he said.
“At the same time, employees who cannot work will continue to be paid, and wine production in 2020 can continue as a core business at great expense when income falls.”
Philip Gregon, CEO of Winegrowing New Zealand, said about 55 percent of its members owned or planned to apply for government grants.
“That should give you a good idea of how the industry is developing,” Gregon said.
“We hope these numbers increase as the block continues.”
Like other industries, Gregon said the blockchain had a dramatic impact on the wine sector.
He said he was happy that the blockade did not affect the harvest, which is an absolute harvest.