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Coronavirus could slow wine industry abroad, boost business on Central Coast

John Palminteri
Central Coast winemakers prepare for the wine industry to experience changes due to the coronavirus.

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The coronavirus could affect the wine industry, and according to some winemakers, it already has.

Wes Hagen, a winemaker for Miller Family Wine Company in Santa Maria, said that he has already seen some disruption at major events, which have been cancelled or postponed.

He said although wine events may be affected, wine itself is safe. "Coronavirus cannot live in wine," he said.

Hagen said he anticipates a boost to local business, as more people will be avoiding major events like concerts or conferences.

He said more people may choose to do staycations, driving to wineries along the California central coast.

Tasting rooms, Hagen said, are kept very sanitary.

Other winemakers are preparing for different types of disruptions.

"We may see slowdowns on our distributor side of our business," said Jenny Williamson Doré, co-owner of Foxen Winery.

Distributors sell wine to hotels, restaurants and other commercial entities.

Although Doré said she is not yet seeing a slowdown, she is preparing for it in her business.

Ultimately, she says a slow down in distribution could affect everyone who works in the wine industry, from the wineries to the people who consume wine.

Doré said she is hoping that with a slow down in distribution, there may also be an increase in online sales to fill that gap.

This weekend, Doré is at the World of Pinot Noir in Santa Barbara, an event for Pinot Noir winemakers and wineries. She said there is signage up at the event regarding hygienic greeting practices since there are attendees from all over the world.

This year, she said there are a lot less kisses and hand shakes.

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business

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Anikka Abbott

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