Iowa Wine Growers Association, marketing director, Nicole Eilers says it is a business tailored to public interaction. “They had to shift their whole business plan from bringing people into the tasting rooms and giving them the experience that Iowa wine is kind of known for,” Eilers says, “to how do we survive, how do we get the product in their hands when we are not supposed to be around people — so it has been really tough.”
Sales of wine and liquor have been up during the pandemic — but Eilers says local wineries aren’t gaining from that trend. “It’s just getting the product into consumers’ hands, that’s the tricky part. Because most wineries in Iowa, if not all, self distribute,” she says.
The second hit to the wineries has been a loss of the added features they provide customers not directly related to selling wine.
“Most of them are also functioning event venues. so a lot of them have spaces for weddings and private events. They do live music, all sorts of things,” according to Eilers. “And so, with COVID and a lot of the mandates in place, that has really taken a toll on businesses. Because that really sort of helps offset the decreased wine sales.”
Eilers says some may not be able to stay open.
“I haven’t really heard of any wineries for sure closing down due to COVID specifically — but I anticipate that most likely that will be the case for some,” Eilers says.
Eilers says they have a report that comes out at the end of the year that details sales and that will give a better idea of where the industry stands.