Coronavirus lock-downs are being lifted in California and wineries are ramping up to resume outdoor tastings, even as rain dominates weather reports in Northern California. If you're coming, bring an umbrella. Most wineries plan to re-open at least partially by February 5th. Restaurants are also re-opening, but check first before going. We've lost many food and beverage businesses over the past year. Even the Starbucks in downtown Fairfield has closed permanently.
South Africa just lifted its ban on alcohol sales, hopefully reviving the wine industry there.
This is a great time to shop wines at Costco. Many brands that refused to allow distribution to warehouse retailers have at least one label on Costco shelves. Decisions to distribute more widely into retail could be driven by lack of tasting room sales.
More than ever, read wine labels closely before buying. We're seeing more instances of well-respected brands being extended outside their usual price and quality category. For example, "Winery X" may be known for producing premium Napa Valley estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon that typically retails around $50 - $100. Those bottles are labeled with the Winery X logo and Napa Valley AVA of origin. Bottles of Winery X Cab may now appear on the market with the same basic logo, but with "California" indicated as the AVA of origin and the bottling site a few hours drive away from Winery X's production facility. The retail price per bottle is around 20% of the winery's typical Cab prices. When you go to Winery X's web site for more information, the "California" wine can't be found. Read the label and don't be fooled!