Your favorite restaurants and bars may be closed, but online wine buying is booming—and already was before the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.

A January report from Rabobank, a global food and agribusiness bank, estimated that U.S. online sales reached $2.6 billion in 2019, growing 22% year on year. At the recent annual Impact Marketing Seminar, Rich Bergsund, chief executive officer of giant online retailer, said the site pulled in $150 million in revenue in 2019.

“No matter what happens, wine consumers won’t abstain,” wrote Rob McMillan, senior vice president of Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division, in a recent blog post. He predicts even higher wine sales are coming.

Gary Fisch, the CEO and owner of Gary’s Wine & Marketplace in New Jersey, can attest to that. In an email, he reported that sales during the week ending March 15 went up 62%. He also saw a 300% increase in local delivery and pickup orders.

And every bottle counts.

During social distancing, popping a cork while viewing the free operas the Metropolitan Opera is streaming (thank you, Met!) or gathering for a glass with friends over video chat virtual happy hour helps people in the industry keep going, whether it’s a small producer in Sonoma, Calif., France, or Italy; a retailer; or a slew of workers at a huge company such as LVMH.

Direct shipments from wineries, virtual tastings
Winery shipments to consumers now account for nearly 11% of the value of all wine retail sales, according to the latest Sovos report, a collaboration between Sovos Ship Compliant and WinesVines Analytics. Many are wines for members of wineries’ clubs, which are easy to join.

Since the closing of California’s tasting rooms, more of them are becoming extra creative.

Chanel-owned St. Supéry in Napa is holding online tastings once a week, on Thursdays. You order a six-pack tasting kit, called Injoy @ Home, then tune in to taste one each week with the winemaker on Zoom. Email [email protected] or call +1 866-612-2582 to order.

Sonoma’s Inman Family Wines just launched a “Meet the Maker” happy hour via Facebook Video Chat, which you can access after purchasing three-bottle tasting packages. (If you’re dreaming of summer, go for an $84 single vineyard rosé.)

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