There are roughly 10,000 wineries in the US that together employ around one million people and generate about $220 billion annually. With that much on the line, winemakers both large and small have a plan for most contingencies—and an insurance plan for others. But no one saw COVID-19, the coronavirus that's threatening lives and industries across the globe, coming.
With social-distancing mandates in place, thousands and thousands of restaurants nationwide have closed their doors. In addition to the millions of laid-off cooks, waiters, dishwashers, and managers, one downstream effect of these closures falls on the livelihoods of their suppliers—whether for wine, uni, or olive oil. Purveyors, small farmers, and wine producers—particularly those that concentrate their business on restaurant sales—have seen a major source of revenue dry up instantaneously.
Making matters worse, like many suppliers, wineries deliver cases of wine to clients, and invoice for them under terms requiring repayment within 30, 60, or 90 days. That means some wineries saw their wine leave the warehouse, expecting to get paid in 60 days, and now they're wondering if they'll ever see that money at all.
To make up for some of these lost sales, many US-based wineries are offering discounted rates and free shipping just to get cash flowing. That makes this a very good time to both support small businesses and buy wine at a discount. Here are some of our favorite wineries offering special discounts.
- Scar of the Sea, a boutique winery based in Santa Maria, CA, makes Chardonnay, Pinot, and Syrah from Bien Nacido and Santa Barbara. Winemaker Mikey Giugni's ciders are highly regarded, and he makes killer sparkling wine too. Get one of the “methode ancestrale” sparkling wines to see a Californian take on bubbles, or the Santa Barbara Pinot for one of the best value wines on this list. COVID19 at check out gets you 35% off and free shipping on six or more bottles.
- After working in Austria with Weingut Knoll, a legendary winery that is one of the best-known examples of Wachau wines like Riesling and Gruner Veltliner, Graham Tatomer returned to his native California and began producing examples of those same grapes, convincing wine drinkers that top-notch versions were possible in a region that hadn't previously been recognized for them. Start with assorted Riesling bottles to learn what he’s all about. He’s offering free shipping on six or more bottles.
- Reeve was launched by Kelly and Noah Dorrance in Healdsburg, California in 2015. Noah does the wines, Kelly the hospitality at the farmstay. Their Pinot Noir is celebrated by oenophiles, but the rosé is a crowd favorite. They’re offering free shipping on six or more bottles.
- Steve Matthiasson is a viticulturist who makes his own wine. Matthiasson is offering 20% off 12 bottles and free shipping, and is also offering tasting room wines—such as their Rose, Napa Linda Vista Chardonnay and Carneros Pinot Noir/Nebbiolo blend—(six for $249, 18% off, free shipping) with a Zoom meeting with the owners to taste through them. Keep in mind, those are wines you normally can't buy without visiting their tasting room in person.
- Whitcraft was founded in 1985 in Santa Barbara, but the current owner, Drake Barnato, took over when his father Chris, the founder, passed in 2014. Chardonnay and Pinot are the focus here, and the wines aren’t fined or filtered. While the tasting room is closed, they’re offering 10% off (plus another 5% if you’re a club member) and free shipping on $250 or six bottles, whichever comes first.
- Storm is made by Ernst Storm, who grew up in South Africa and moved to California for a job in California’s Sierra Foothills. He later moved to the Santa Barbara area to focus on Pinot, but he also makes a Grenache rosé and a Sauvignon Blanc. He’s offering free shipping on six bottles and 15% off 12 bottles.
- For something a bit different from your average Cab or Pinot, check out Methode Sauvage, which is offering 20% off a mixed case. Founded by Chad Hinds, Methode Sauvage makes Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc and recently planted a vineyard following the principles of Masanobu Fukuoka, famous for his "do-nothing" approach to farming.
- Dunites is a small Syrah/Grenache producer in San Luis Obispo, California, making wines with minimal intervention. They’re offering 20% and $10 flat rate shipping—unless you live in San Luis Obispo county, in which case shipping is free.
- Rootdown focuses on single-vineyard wines made Sonoma, California by Mike Lucia, a Copain alum. The name says it all—Mike is focused on the reflection of the earth in his trousseau, sangiovese, chenin blanc, Grenache blanc, and other uncommon CA varietals. ROOTDOWNBABY gets you 15% off rosé, and shipping is free on 12 bottles.