What do do about the 2020 harvest? Grapevines will produce grapes and we will be making wine but what has happened since the Coronavirus pandemic to impact the 2020 harvest – quality, quantity?

Years from now this picture will bring back some very traumatic memories of a pandemic like our generations have not had to experience. We will (most of us) survive and live in a Post-COVID-19 world.

Here are my current thoughts about the 2020 growing season. The quality of the grapes being grown this year is completely unknown (May 4th) but we do know demand for grapes is collapsing statewide and that includes demand for even the best grape sites. It revolves around uncertainty. I know today isn’t good but how about one year out? Two years out? That is when the 2020 vintage is most likely going to be bottled and first offered for sale. Will there be any need for wine from this vintage? If prices collapse – then what will that mean for quality?

Most of us are in the middle of grape contracts and we have little room to wiggle out of them without the agreement of the grower. We can’t just unilaterally drop them – unless you have a big cadre of attorneys and can intimidate the grower into dropping their complaint. Even so, that isn’t the wine business I want to live and work in – where everyone is simply and only out for themselves. This is a team, running from the vineyard to your table. These are good people, people with great skill and people willing to work hard and do the dirty jobs.

All that said, what do I think will happen in 2020? I think that a lot of wineries – including MARITANA VINEYARDS – are going to look at trying to produce an extra small crop that reflects what we expect to sell in 2020 and push the hard questions to another year.

What hard questions? I think the wine business is looking at the next few months as possibly the biggest change in California since the wine Renaissance of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. How will consumption change? Who will be interested in drinking wine? How will we all communicate with our customers? Do consumers at home want 100 emails a day about the newest offer or sale? (I think that’s probably a “no”.) It’s completely muddled at this point. There are no definitive answers to the above just prognosticators who want to take a guess.

YES – there will be a 2020 harvest (even for MARITANA VINEYARDS).

We are hopeful that the quality will be high because most wineries are going to try to get smaller. In the next two weeks we hope to determine exactly what grapes we can buy and those we need to work with the grower to help them find other buyers for. It’s heartbreaking. We have carefully selected the vineyards we are working with now – it’s hard to imagine that there will be a lot of buyers jumping up to take the grapes… at the same price.

What’s next?

A pleasant summer and a dry harvest season – I hope.

Donald Patz

2020 Harvest?
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