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Merchants get creative as they continue to sell wine during COVID-19 uncertainty

British and American wine merchants are turning to delivery as Coronavirus fears force customers to stay at home...

Wine merchants, retailers and producers on both sides of the Atlantic are pivoting their business models to offer delivery to customers during lockdowns and restrictions on movement brought upon by the global Corona virus pandemic.

While many have always offered a delivery service and are simply upping their game by offering free delivery to local customers or slashing delivery fees, some are getting on the delivery bandwagon for the first time and others are coming up with creative ways of servicing their customers during these unique times.

Most independent merchants in the UK are offering free local and national delivery (often with a 6 bottle or £50 minimum order – do check with your local indie) with an increasing number curating special mixed cases to deliver or have ready for collection.

Martinez Wine in Yorkshire, for example, is offering a six bottle ‘Corona case’ with free local delivery for £75, which includes wines from the Loire, Franschhoek, California and Rioja. Wine Therapy in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, meanwhile, has teamed up with other nearby independent businesses – including a butcher and baker – to deliver a food and wine parcel to self-isolating locals.

If you can get out of the house but don’t fancy getting out of the car and live in Norfolk, Flint Vineyard near Bungay is offering a drive through wine service.

‘If you’d be up for driving past the tasting room window to stock up on wine and possibly a ’15 Mile goodie bag’ of local cheese, charcuterie and artisan bread, then let us know! Could be your Friday night in sorted and you wouldn’t need to leave your car,’ says Flint’s Hannah Witchell.

Another English producer helping customers out during this tricky time is Ridgeview in Sussex which has postponed all its on-site tours and tastings but has made its full range of wines available to order online with complimentary next-day delivery, no matter the size or order. ‘We are all in this together and feel confident that our customers may need a little sparkle in the lives from time-to-time to see them through,’ they say.

Historic wine merchants Corney & Barrow is busy planning an array of upcoming offers ‘whether for the cellar or to keep you stocked through the coming months’, so keep an eye on their website and social media for this. ‘It may be increasingly difficult to ‘eat out’ but we are very happy to help with your ‘drinking in’,’ says Managing Director Adam Brett-Smith

Majestic has confirmed that despite ‘almost unprecedented demand’ its local store delivery is continuing to run as usual – free if 6 or more bottles are ordered – although its superstore in Calais has closed its doors for the foreseeable future.

Great Western Wine have dropped their free delivery threshold down from £100 to £50 and are promising ‘strong offers’.

See also: Ask Decanter: How to buy wine online – do’s and don’t’s

USA merchants

In America demand for wine is just as high, and a number of wine bars which have been forced to close their doors are switching their business models.

New York City’s La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels is offering its complete wine list for takeaway or delivery at 25% the list price with the bar’s staff taking care of deliveries across the Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens areas. It is planning on setting up  a ‘wine bootcamp’ video series on YouTube which will offer virtual wine tastings.

On the west coast in San Francisco The Morris restaurant is offering customers a ‘curbside pickup’ service for any wine on its long list and have set-up an email sommelier consultation service.

In Dallas Biagio Wine & Spirits is seeing an increase in its delivery orders (7-mile radius, minimum purchase $20). General manager Dan Fredman told the Dallas News: ‘Delivery orders are increasing both in overall numbers of orders as well as the amount of spirits/wine people are buying in each order.’

Another Dallas retailer – 38 & Vine in Fort Worth’s Foundry District – is offering doorstep deliveries of wine for those keen to ‘stay at home and beat the crowds’.

No-one on either side of the pond is yet to offer wine deliveries by drone (it’s only a matter of time with outfits like Amazon Air constantly developing technology in this field) but a UK-based craft beer merchant is pushing its door-to-door kegged beer and cocktails growler service. Weekly refills will be available from its mobile bar in Bucks and Herts areas with London deliveries planned soon.

What is your local independent merchant offering? Share with us on Twitter @Decanter

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