TIME SENSITIVE: ACTION REQUESTED

Governor Brown’s office is seeking feedback on Phase 1 reopening from wine tasting rooms as it considers guidance for Phase 2. Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla is compiling statewide wine industry feedback for the Governor’s staff. Email Commissioner Kulla and copy the OWB no later than Thursday, May 28 at 2 p.m. with your answers to the following: 
  1. How is Phase 1 working?
  2. Are there some adjustments that might help?
Remember to include your county location. Thank you in advance for your help.
Dear Friends,
 
Since everyone was busy over what we’ll remember as a different kind of Memorial Day weekend, we want to offer one more reminder to wineries about signing up for Oregon Vine Perks. The Oregon Wine Board kicked off the promotion earlier this month to help us move through COVID-19 and drive wine sales while at the same time incentivizing consumers to rediscover our wine regions and tasting rooms as they reopen this summer.
 
There is no charge for a winery to participate, and more information can be found in the toolkit

OWB briefed journalists in advance about Oregon Vine Perks, and press coverage started breaking a couple weeks ago. We’re supplementing that with targeted online advertising to generate broader consumer awareness. And our partners at Travel Oregon piled on to extend our reach even further with this piece available on their website and shared via their social channels so wine buyers won’t miss the opportunity to become Oregon Vine Perks pass holders.
Many of those consumers will go to visit.oregonwine.org for a listing of open tasting rooms while others may be looking for wineries still focused on curbside service. Help them all create wine country itineraries by updating your winery’s profile here. With that refresh, your business is more searchable on the OWB’s website and can also be included in Travel Oregon’s Oregon Tourism Information System (OTIS).
As you may have seen in our recent Grapevine newsletter, Silicon Valley Bank hosted the latest in its “State of the Wine Industry” webinars with an hour-long special edition last week. Here are the PowerPoint slides again and some comments:
  • DTC software provider vinSUITE shared data from its winery sample showing wine club and e-commerce sales represent 80% of sales during the COVID-19 lockdown period starting March 20 versus 54% pre-pandemic;
  • Nielsen’s national reporting indicates off-premise wine sales, measured in dollars, are up +31% versus a year ago since the on-premise restrictions went into effect in March. That compares to a strong +36% trend for spirits and a softer +21% for the beer segment;
  • Veteran Nielsen analyst Danny Brager synthesized the multi-channel data streams to conclude that overall wine sales are up during COVID-19 as off-premise gains more than offset on-premise losses. However, Brager urged wineries to monitor and learn from the pandemic-induced behavioral shift, which is leading successful brand owners to adapt and recognize where consumers are buying instead of waiting for them to come back to wineries;
  • Slides 13-16 offer reference points from selected California growing regions. They reflect a recent surge in vineyard removals and the possibility of a gradual transition towards grape supply and demand equilibrium in line with Allied Grape Growers’ estimate of California’s optimal bearing acreage level.
Another webinar last week, this one more Oregon-centric, was sponsored by the Oregon Wine Council and focused on some of the lessons learned as winery tasting rooms around the state opened their doors to visitors and put the industry’s reopening guidelines into practice.
 
While most wine business owners with Paycheck Protection Loans do not have to worry immediately about completing loan forgiveness paperwork, eventually it will be required. At this point, even the lenders don’t have all the instructions from SBA on the forgiveness process. The Treasury Department did however release this Application for Forgiveness, and accountants advise getting some assistance in completing the 11-page document.  
 
Two common questions among the many that come up about forgiveness are:
  • When does the eight-week period for forgiveness begin? It starts on the first day PPP loan funds were received;
  • What is the limit on forgivable owner or owner-employee pay? Forgiveness is capped at $15,385 or the eight-week equivalent of the person’s applicable compensation in 2019, whichever is lower
A few final quick reminders about upcoming webinars of interest:
  • Don’t miss a free session bright and early at 8 a.m. next Wednesday morning June 3. VinExpo: NYC has underwritten a webinar exploring key changes in consumer behavior as a result of COVID-19 and the ways in which they are likely to impact how we shop, what we drink and where we drink it;
  • In the afternoon of June 3, MTO Agency hosts an online workshop on how to make your marketing budget work harder through smart targeting with Facebook ads. Save $50 using the code MTOFORALL when registering;
  • Then on Thursday, June 25, SOVOS ShipCompliant offers this free online seminar from 1-5 p.m. with industry updates and a presentation from the California Wine Institute’s Steve Gross. Gross is one of the country’s most well-informed experts on state-by-state regulatory activities and the ways state legislatures influence the DTC segment. Save the date as registration will open soon.


Tom Danowski
President
Oregon Wine Board
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