COVID -19 Viticulture Update 3/22/2020

— Written By

COVID-19 Viticulture Update 3/22/2020

Dear grape and wine community,

Spring is here, and chores in the vineyards as well as tasting room traffic and event season is here too. The world is rapidly changing, and a lot of you already have closed their doors in the tasting rooms, canceled all events or have reduced operations to pick up only. Wine America as well as the Wine Institute are working closely with the federal and state governments to make sure vineyards, wineries and tasting rooms stay in operation. Please take this Wine America  survey before end of business, Mar 23!

Vineyard and H2-A Labor:

Please look at the COVID-19 resource page of the Lodi Wine Growers Assoc.  The federal government is working on H2-A visas and the USDA has set up a special email to address to voice any concerns regarding H2-A labor: aglabor@usda.gov . Please email this address if you have any concerns about your H2-A labor force.

Before you lay off labor in tasting rooms and events sector, please check if your vineyard operation may need some additional hourly help. Spring season starts soon, which means chores such as shoot thinning, hedging and tugging are coming up soon and some of you are still pruning.

Several Farming related resources are developed by NC State:

NC State Horticulture COVID-19 Farming Resources

NC State Horticulture COVID-19 Food Safety Resources

COVID-19 Numbers:

As of 3/22/2020, 10:16 a.m.: a total of 6,438 people in NC were tested for the new Coronavirus. 255 people in NC were tested positive. Until now, NC has no COVID-19 related death.

NCDHHS Coronavirus Information Page

As of 3/22/2020, 6:13 p.m.: 329,935 people worldwide are known to be infected with the virus, and 14,450 people have died due to COVID-19.

World-Wide Covid-19 GIS Tracker  

Our survey:

Please take our COVID-19 Survey. This is important to us in such a situation. No-one of us has ever experienced something like this before nor were we prepared. We need to know what you think, so that we can respond better to this emergency. The survey is anonymous and will only take 3 min.

TAKE OUR COVID-19 SURVEY

Fresh-Market: Food Safety:

Harvest season is a still some time away. But we recommend to think about regulations, that might possibly impact fresh-market harvesting later on. North Carolina State University have developed a comprehensive guideline on food safety, which can be found here:  NC State Farming Resources. The FDA has released a temporary policy regarding preventative controls during the COVID-19 outbreak.

For those of you who have other seasonal crops, please see:

NC State Horticulture COVID-19 Food Safety Resources

COVID-19 Farmers Market Guidelines

COVID-19 U-Pick Guidelines

COVID-19 Community Garden Guidelines

Sales and marketing:

It may become difficult to make sufficient sales to your customers, using your normal way of operations. NOW is the time to think about alternative marketing approaches. Use social media, especially facebook and instagram to sell your wine, set up pick-up stands in the tasting room or at your farm. If you have a restaurant operation, think about using food delivery services or install your own wine and food delivery service.

Some platforms may allow alcohol deliveries: Get in contact with Uber-Eats, door-dash or Grubhub. Take online and call-in orders for wine and food, if you can.

If you want to set up an online store, there are several software and cloud solutions available: Shopify, Go-daddy, Adobe Magento Commerce, squarespace, big commerce  

How to help your community?

Please think about how you can help you local community in two ways: How can you keep people safe? And how can you make sure that people have necessary food and nutrition supply? Can I volunteer, can we provide food through our restaurants? Please work with churches and other community leaders together. We are all in this together. Please find more ideas in our NC State Horticulture COVID-19 Farming Resources page. Please also find the CEFS response, contact the interfaith food shuttle and the community food peer network if you want to help!

I hope everyone stays safe and healthy,

Mark