A third of Australian wineries could go to the wall in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, according to the industry’s peak national body.
- Wine industry body predicts up to one third of wineries could go under
- Coronavirus restrictions have cut off vital cellar door trade
- Winemaking continues as an “essential agricultural industry”
“We’ve got 2,600 wineries at the moment and 30 per cent of that we could lose,” said Tony Battaglene, chief executive of Australian Grape and Wine.
“That’s anything up to 700 or 800 businesses, it’s that serious. I’m very worried.”
On March 30, following an outbreak of coronavirus among international tourists visiting the Barossa Valley, the South Australian government ordered the closure of all winery cellar doors that supply direct to the public.
Those state-based restrictions were relaxed this week to allow takeaway sales of alcohol and food.
Cellar doors miss chance to boost cash reserves ahead of winter
While there weren’t the same orders in all other states, the lack of tourism due to travel restrictions and the inability to serve sit-down customers has meant cellar doors everywhere have closed.
In South Australia’s McLaren Vale, Hugh Hamilton Wines was closed over Easter, traditionally a very busy time which financially sets up businesses for the winter.
“We are very much a wine business that focuses on selling wine directly to our customers and the cellar door is our lifeblood — that is where they first meet us,” said CEO Mary Hamilton.”So you can imagine that has a really big impact on a business when you cut that off dead.”
Ms Hamilton said her business sells wine through the large wine retailers but also directly markets to customers via an online store and wine clubs.
She said she is hopeful this experience helps the winery get through the current crisis.
“But I am feeling the pressure of having to become really good at it, really quickly,” she said.