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.
“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.
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.
Cellar doors miss chance to boost cash reserves ahead of winter
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.
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.
Winemaking carries on
Production facilities which make wine but have no public interface have continued as they are considered an essential agricultural industry.
For Peter Leske, who makes wine for around 30 different clients at Revenir Winery at Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills, the fact he can continue production is a major relief.