The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is affecting the entire world. It is now a global pandemic, and the United States is asking everyone to take action to prevent the spread of the disease.
A number of cancellations and postponements were announced this week. Texans are well aware that South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin was cancelled and the Houston Rodeo closed early. Many schools closed and made plans to extend Spring Break. Sports fans were disappointed by a cancelled NCAA basketball tournament, PGA Tour, and XFL, including postponed NBA, MLB, MLS, and NHL games. The impact was felt across the nation as closures hit Disneyland/Universal Studios, most of Washington DC, Broadway, and more.
How is COVID-19 affecting the Texas wine industry? How are wineries responding to this health threat? These are the questions we posed to some wineries around the state.
Paul M. Bonarrigo: “We have been closely monitoring the evolving situation across Texas and the U.S. since January and are making the best decisions to take care of our customers and staff. We have already increased training and cleaning protocols. Karen and I are currently traveling outside Texas, and we will be back next week.”
Brian Heath: “We are open our normal hours currently and our standard approach on Saturdays already limits the total number of guests. However, we will continue to stay aware and adjust as needed.”
Mark Hyman, President and CEO: “It is such a stark situation that is getting worse day by day, affecting so very much more than just the wine industry. It’s starting to affect so many things in our lives beyond the slowing of sales, inconveniences with meetings, events, travel and more being suspended. It involves our very lives and those of our families and loved ones. I’ve received third party information about the situation in Italy at present, and it’s “horrible.” It’s unprecedented in our time, as our President started out his speech this week. I think we’re all trying to come to grips with it, hopefully follow the advice given, and move forward slowly a day at a time. It may get a whole lot worse before it gets better, but I certainly hope not. I pray that we’ll get beyond it in the next month or so.”
Bill Freidhof, V.P Sales & Marketing: “I’ve been cancelling March travel plans all day—flights, hotels, rental cars!”
Rebecca Conley: “At Brennan Vineyards, the health and safety of our employees and guests is always a top priority and will continue to be as we closely monitor the COVID-19 outbreak. We are working hard to ensure the health and well-being of all who enter our winery, while also operating under the guidance and advice of our local health officials and government leaders. Currently we are not aware of any risk or danger with COVID-19 infections here in Comanche or the surrounding areas. Brennan Vineyards will remain fully operational with normal business hours until advised otherwise by local public health officials.”
Julie and Patrick Whitehead: “The safety and well-being of our guests is, and always has been, of the utmost concern to us. Today at Blue Ostrich Winery, our doors are open and we have guests on property enjoying this warm spring like weather. Trees in our valley are budding out and surrounding pastures and lawns are already beginning to “green up.” While this change in season is underway, we are also taking additional steps to try and do what we can to protect everyone, both visitors and employees, that walk through our doors.”
The wineries we contacted are all taking precautions to ensure the safety of their guests. Please follow the precautions given by officials and health organizations to keep yourself safe. If you decide to stay home during the COVID-19 outbreak, there are a number of other ways you can support the Texas wine industry and be a more educated (and stylish) consumer of fine Texas wine.
- Buy Texas wine online from your favorite winery
- Plan a future trip to your favorite Texas winery, or explore a new region or winery. Check the Texas Wine Lover website for inspiration and use the winery map.
- Shop at the Texas Wine Lover online store
- Learn more about Texas wine by watching a video on a Texas wine topic. These videos are brought to you by the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association.
- Read the Texas Wine Compendium, a new publication by the Texas Department of Agriculture