Wine tastings brought to consumers' homes as wineries struggle to stay afloat during pandemic

As wineries lose sales from restaurants, they are thinking of ways to bring their business directly to consumers.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Pandemic forces wineries in California to rethink business
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With many wineries closed - but alcohol sales increasing - Traveling Wine Gals is among businesses that are reinventing the wine business for the at-home consumer.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep businesses closed across the country, wineries are rethinking their operations as they seek to stay afloat and keep up with consumers' changing habits.

Rona Reithmayr and Molly Buck co-founded Traveling Wine Gals, a wine-tasting business that brings the experience to consumers at home.

"Wine sales in general and alcohol sales have quadrupled, which is why this business has exploded, which is why we both decided to get into it together," Reithmayr said.

Traveling Wine Gals hosts virtual tastings and small socially-distanced gatherings for consumers interested in celebrating with their friends in a COVID-safe manner.

"It's in a very COVID-friendly environment, so they're not nervous. We're able to bring that socialization, that comfort, and the joy of beautiful, clean-crafted wines," Buck said.

Not every business is seeing a boost in sales. Cornell Winery in the Santa Monica Mountains has struggled to stay afloat due to restaurant and winery closures.

"The biggest part of our business was selling to restaurants, so the dynamic has completely changed, because those restaurants aren't as available as they were before COVID," said Tim Skogstrom, the founder of Cornell Winery.

The small family-owned winery doesn't produce enough wines to be on the shelves at large retail stores. For now, they are relying on outdoor dining and partnerships with local restaurants in Malibu.