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Covid: wineries and restaurants, who wins and who loses


Covid: wineries and restaurants, who wins and who loses

Wine sales grow but the financial reports of small wineries do not. Will Covid19 bring the small wine producers and restaurateurs to sell up to larger ones?


Restaurants-wine-and-covid-how-change-and which-are-the-new-perspectives

Restaurants-wine-and-covid-how-change-and which-are-the-new-perspectives

By Donatella Cinelli Colombini

There is a solution to the problem which I am about to address: transform restaurants into places where one can discover wine and food. Give new perspectives to the wine and food artisans of their territory. Is this a dream? No it is an opportunity for everybody.



In US, the consumers buy more bottles (57%) and the large wineries earn bigger shares of the market at the expense of the smaller, which register a decrease in business.

Research done by the Sonoma State University and published by Wine Searcher regards the US, but in fact resembles greatly what I hear from Italian producers.

The analysis done in the US firstly emphasizes the increase in the price of wines bought by retailers. We are talking about only 0,70 Dollars, but in view of the general economic situation it is something noticeable. It  is also noticeable that the segment of the most sold bottles is that of those between 20 and 25$.

Consumers buy more expensive wines and the premium bottles move indoors? Maybe that is so.


Restaurants-wine-and-covid-how-change-and which-are-the-new-perspectives-Ravioli-stuffed-with-pecorino-cheese-and-LeoneRosso

Restaurants-wine-and-covid-how-change-and which-are-the-new-perspectives-Ravioli-stuffed-with-pecorino-cheese-and-LeoneRosso


Wine ordered directly from wineries online has greatly increased. But the average price has decreased by 10$ with respect to last year and the bottles over 150$ have become unsellable. Another important element: small wineries have had difficulties also with this sales channel, and their stocks in the warehouses is increasing.

All leads to the impression that there will be acquisition by the large wine brands of great slices of the market, while small wineries struggle because of less visibility online and on store shelves.

According to experts, the Americans have had more economic availability during the pandemic maybe because they were forced to stay indoors. This situation has increased their shopping figures, and for some goods such as Champagne the prospect is of a particularly florid period. Less rosy are the perspectives for restaurants that will now have more difficulty in marking up wines  like they did before, because clients are now used to buying online and they know how much bottles cost.



In the end the upheaval created by Covid in Italy it is probable that the major difficulties will be for the smaller wineries with a less structured sales network and for restaurants.

The question is will the habit of inviting friends to dinner at home, with wine and foods delivered so as to risk less possibility of virus spread, end just like magic once the pandemic is over? It is not to be excluded that this will continue even after because of the economic benefits of eating at home rather than out.
It is in fact the catering segment that is the weaker link in the chain, it risks not surviving the pandemic and forcing wineries to remodel their sales network.

In Italy there are 333.640 restaurants, one every 180 inhabitants while in France there is every 300 inhabitants. Therefore if we consider that France before Covid received 87 million tourists from abroad and Italy 58, it is easy to understand that the catering sector in our nation was already in a critical situation before 2020. Covid has amplified the problem creating new consumer trends that could worsen the crisis of the whole catering industry, and of those who supply them wineries included.

Let me however go back to the initial proposal: In this crisis an opportunity is hidden, if restaurants become talent scouts for small food and wine productions and help clients discover them by transforming meals in to cultural, pleasant and ecological experiences.

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