How is the Coronavirus Impacting Wineries and Wine Lovers?



Should you hold firm to plans for travelling to wine regions in the near future? How are winery visits being impacted by the threat of COVID-19? Can you still attend major wine events during the coronavirus pandemic? How can you take advantage of online classes to continue to enjoy wine tasting experiences?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re talking about how wineries and restaurants have been impacted by the Coronavirus, and what we can do to support them and still maintain our safety and health.

You can find the wines we discussed here.



  • How can you limit your anxiety around coronavirus news?
  • Do you have to stop dining out at restaurants (provided they’re still open in your area)?
  • What steps can you take to limit person-to-person contact?
  • Why shouldn’t you add certain types of vodka to your hand-sanitising routine?
  • Should you hold firm to plans for travelling to wine regions in the near future?
  • How are winery visits being impacted by the threat of COVID-19?
  • What hand washing tips do you need to remember when interacting with other people?
  • What social distancing restrictions apply to you in the San Francisco Bay Area?
  • How are restaurant patrons being impacted in Beijing and Italy?
  • How have restaurants’ business performance suffered in cities with high incidence of coronavirus?
  • What impact do large event cancellations have on local restaurants?
  • Can you still attend major wine events during the coronavirus pandemic?
  • How will Bordeaux négociants change their en primeur tasting week?
  • What boom are optimists predicting you’ll see by the end of the year?
  • Why is Australian wine industry experiencing a massive drop in sales?
  • What can you expect to experience at the Vancouver Wine Festival?
  • How are restaurant workers at a particular disadvantage during lockdowns and quarantines?
  • What impact will you see on the supply chain of wine retailers?
  • Will you see innovation opportunities in the restaurant and wine industry?
  • How can you take advantage of online classes to continue to enjoy wine tasting experiences?


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Transcript & Takeaways

Welcome to episode 69!

This episode, like most, is based on a Facebook live video chat I hosted recently. However, this one is different. I had to settle my internal debate about whether to do it at all. So I asked myself 3 questions:

  1. Do you look like an insensitive jerk if you talk about anything except the Coronavirus these days? My take is not necessarily.
  2. Can you talk about wine in a time when it feels like a frivolous luxury?  Of course.
  3. Are jerks ever sensitive?  Never.

I believe that we still want to be entertained, diverted and given an occasional break from the 24-7 CNN, Corona News Network. In fact, I’d like to know how to flatten the curve of emails flooding my inbox with how we’re handling the Covid-19 virus.

That said, we acknowledge this is a serious issue…

This episode is about how wineries and restaurants have been impacted by the Coronavirus, and what we can do to support them and still maintain our safety and health. I’m not suggesting you visit wineries and restaurants, as many are closing temporarily. However, you can support them when they reopen, and right now, if they’re answering their phones, you can buy wine online or gift certificates from restaurants for future use so they still have some cash flow.

Deb Harris of Uncorked Wine Tours emailed me after the Facebook live to say that as a Wine Tour Operator in the Okanagan Valley, she’s suffered from cancellations and doesn’t want to look like the bad guy if full refunds are replaced with full credits. Bankruptcy is always but a mass hysteria away!

Anyone in the hospitality business knows the importance of hygiene.  We have ramped up our efforts and limited the points of contact. Our tours will continue as long as we are healthy and our vehicles are disinfected ‘stem to stern’ and is equipped with all the necessary wipes and cleaning products.  Do not give in to mass hysteria.

Before I move on to the recorded show, I wanted to share a few more wine-related newsy bits with you. Apparently, many news stations reported that an Australian couple who were quarantined on a cruise ship off the coast of Japan due to Covid-19 had wine delivered to them by a drone. The article read: “Jan and Dave Binskin, from Queensland, have documented their journey of boredom and booze while stranded on the Diamond Princess ship off the coast of Tokyo for the past week. The couple then reached out to the Naked Wine Club and — much to their delight — received two bottles of Pinot Noir that were delivered to their cabin door by drone. Sadly, this was debunked as a prank story from an Australian radio station on their social media channel. Wishful thinking.

Meanwhile, in other wine news, spitting or expectorating your wine when tasting it is a necessary practice among professional wine critics. But is it still safe during this time? According to Felicity Carter in an article in Wine Business International, the risk of transmitting an infection to someone else through saliva is actually relatively low, according to Michael Benninger MD of the Cleveland Clinic. Her suggestion for those concerned about this at wineries is to have freestanding spittoons, plastic-lined bins or individual cups, rather than small spittoons that you have to reach over other people to spit into. The people who empty them should be protected too, with rubber gloves and hand sanitizer.

I’m recording this intro March 17th and things are changing daily. This conversation first aired on Facebook live video March 11th so occasionally you’ll hear me respond to viewer questions and comments. You can join that conversation every second Wednesday at 7 pm eastern, including this evening if you’re listening to this podcast on the day it’s published March 25th.

I’ll put a link where you can find us in the show notes, as well as links to the stories I mentioned and the video version of this conversation at

With any worldwide scare or tragedy, there’s still room for humour, distraction and the communal feeling that wine inspires when we gather around the kitchen table or the virtual one.

That’s the feeling we have among my online course students when we gather to taste wine together regularly. We may be logging in from Toronto, New York, Amsterdam or Edinburgh, but now, more than ever, we feel connected.

We still want to learn about wine in a fun and welcoming community, but we also love the comfort and safety of our own homes.

I invite you to taste and feel what that’s like in my online class (no cost) on pairing wine and food at

Pick a time and day that work for you, and you can share some wine with me at my virtual table, where you’re always welcome.

In 1665, Cambridge University in the U.K. sent everyone home because of the bubonic plague. A student there, Isaac Newton, quarantined himself in his parents’ home. During that time, he discovered calculus and the laws of motion.

This, too, can be a time of learning and regeneration for you. Okay on with the show!


You can also watch the Facebook video show that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.


Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this conversion.

If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it. You’ll find links to the video version of this conversation and where you can find us on Facebook live every second Wednesday at 7 pm, including this evening, in the show notes at

Finally, if you want to cocoon with me and a glass of wine, join me in a free online video class at

You won’t want to miss next week when we’ll be chatting with Californian winemaker John Williams of Frog’s Leap winery in Napa Valley about the profound impact that organic viticulture and dry farming has on the style of wine you drink. This man has a wonderful sense of humour… got to love the imprint on the cork of Frog’s Leap which says “time’s fun when you’re eating flies” but he makes seriously great wines.

Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a wine that comforts you!



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