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Wineries adapt to changes brought on by pandemic

Posted at 9:00 AM, Jan 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-20 13:59:53-05

There were many losses when the pandemic forced shutdowns in March, but Pete Stolpman of Stolpman Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley says a quick pivot to email marketing turned into a major win.

"It was our best email campaign," Stolpman said.

Since customers can't come to the tasting room to taste, Stolpman Vineyards is keeping busy by bringing wines into homes.

"Answering questions, taking orders, and most importantly, packing up a ton of boxes for shipment," Stolpman said.

Like Stolpman Vineyards, Le Cuvier Winery in Paso Robles also made a similar shift. Clay Selkirk, Le Cuvier's winemaker, says with an older demographic, over the phone sales have been equally important.

According to the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, there was a 26% increase in consumer sales in the latter half of 2020, reflecting sales made online, over the phone, and through memberships.

"We're gonna be launching our take-home tastings here in the next couple of weeks," Selkirk said. "We have this completely new slate of wines that nobody's been able to taste yet."

Beyond that, Selkirk and his team are preparing for the day when guests can once again enjoy tastings at the winery.

"We're anticipating being outdoors for the foreseeable future," Selkirk said. "We look to expand upon that and have this very personalized experience for our members and guests."

Back in the Santa Ynez Valley, Stolpman says the winery had to turn to other options when it came to making up for lost revenue that otherwise would've come from the tasting room.

"Unfortunately it's at the detriment of liquidating our inventory in stocks that we were holding on for a rainy day and 2020 brought that rainy day and hopefully it will clear up soon," Stolpman said.

Stolpman Vineyards has weather that storm.

"It's great to see that what my dad started and what I've continued has pulled through this pandemic," Stolpman said.

With a dry start to the winter season, Stolpman says the late-season rain in March and April will be crucial to ensure a good crop.