A dry Christmas: Poor grape harvests, nutty weather, global supply chain woes wallop wine industry

Wine marketers are urging consumers to ‘buy and buy sooner’ or ‘risk their frustration’ this year

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Enjoying a varied meal, heavy pasta, meat and tradition, culminating in a glass of grappa – an Italian-Canadian beverage called “healthy water” – is a Christmas tradition for many families with Old World roots.


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For some families with different roots and tastes, the enthusiasts may be limited to a simple New Zealand sauvignon blanc drink bottle. Some may have special tastes, and they live in the waters of precious champagne. Some may have no taste at all, and take everything that looks good when they enter a liquor store in search of a quick meal or gift.

Eating well and drinking satiety is a holiday tradition for many, which is why wine sellers are urging experienced and plonk buyers alike to “buy fast and buy more” or “get frustrated” this year.

This is the advice of Craig de Blois, President of Noble Estates Wine & Spirits Inc., Ontario’s largest wine retailer. A former college hockey player and Old Milwaukee drinker caught the offense while working as a global banker with a payroll account. He later placed his new interest in a new career path.


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Now in his 50’s, his message to consumers – to buy now – is not the only way to get the first vacation business.

Poor grape harvests, weather problems, labor problems, shortage of bottles and barns, and the worldwide influx of imported cars make wine sellers rush to buy. They have been waiting for several months for the delayed ships to arrive to meet the needs of Canadian consumers who are usually thirsty around this time of year.

“Builders, dry guys, love their grappa,” de Blois said. “But our big grappa system probably doesn’t get here until January, when grappa is very difficult to sell.”

Meanwhile, the rainy season in New Zealand, home to easy-to-drink sauvignon Canadians and winter consumers worldwide, contributed to a 20 percent decline in annual grape yields. This equates to 60 tons of grapes.


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As a result, shipping costs to New Zealand dropped for the first time in 26 years, according to a 2020 annual corporate report.

Approximately 1,200 liters of Kiwi wine were discovered off the coast of Canada in 2021 than in the normal year due to declining yields and difficult shipping.

Sunshine strikes in the vineyards of New Zealand in 2010.
Sunshine strikes in the vineyards of New Zealand in 2010. Photo taken with Mark Coote / Bloomberg files

This deficiency was made clear during a recent “investigation” trip to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario west of Toronto, where an assistant clerk said the last five New Zealand sauvignon bottles on the shelf would be the last five bottles “until the container appeared, each time.” : the last five bottles are now gone).

France was again hit by the grape growing season in 2021. Rain, frost, mildew and hail caused French grapes to clog up at their jaws, which prevented them from being available at a time when demand was high. Australian wine exports to Canada are said to be 12 percent lower, South American goods are struggling to make ends meet and Turkey is a major disaster.


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Conditions deteriorate to the point where some areas are distributing alcohol. For example, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) has listed the number of bottles of Veuve Clicquot champagne that a person can buy twice a day from a customer, according to The Wall Street Journal. It is said that there are 42 more wines and spirits on the PLCB food list. Ohio, Vermont and New Jersey are also experiencing declines.

But the problem is not enough to give.

COVID-19 eliminated business transactions, idle cash accounts, and forced supervisors who were accustomed to winning and eating to replace Zoom phones over and over again. Everyone has to deal with the stress, frustration and loneliness of a pandemic.


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Some people performed new toys, including, drinking more alcohol, according to a study by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which recorded a 23.3% alcohol consumption rate among respondents, compared with 11.8 percent who reported drinking less.

One of the Ontarians’ most popular drinks was the $ 100-plus Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Brut Rosé Champagne offered by de Blois at LCBO, one of the world’s leading alcoholic beverages. But now they don’t have any bottles.

We are seeing sales that have never occurred before, but sales that are not known

Craig de Blois

“We are seeing sales that have never happened, but sales that are not known,” he said.

De Blois compares the global wine market to the “Wild West”.


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Exporters are running out, say, their French brands looking for alternatives. If this approach is a sign of de Blois, well, look at what is going on and the winner will receive it – assuming it appears at first glance.

Nick Nanos, chief executive at LCBO, in the latest market changes said the “disruption of ports and the voyage of emptiness” is causing a delay of three to six weeks.

Craig de Blois at his Markham office, Ont., Wednesday.
Craig de Blois at his Markham office, Ont., Wednesday. Photo by Peter J. Thompson / National Post

De Blois recorded a delay of three or four months. Some boats pass through New Zealand together, as exports do not have to stop there.

But before you rush into the shopping mall, be aware that the shelves are free of charge. They may not be full of some of the grapes that consumers are accustomed to finding there.


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The shortage is not limited to wine, either. Tequila and scotch drinkers also appear to have a long, dark complexion, which can be very impressive.

If there is silver, Ontario and British Columbia wineries may be a good place to go looking for extra bottles.

But home-made manufacturers have their own heads, especially empty bottles. Imports from Europe that cost winemakers about $ 8 before the epidemic, now cost them $ 12, and could cost them $ 16 in the new year.

“Your goods are the same – all the goods,” said Stephen Gash, general manager of Malivoire Wine Co. in Beamsville, Ont.

Instead of Malivoire, it has a winning prize at a time when France, the rosé dynasty, is battling the fall of a bad harvest, not to mention having a sea between them and Canadian consumers.


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The Malivoire National Park is a 90-minute drive from most of the area around the Greater Toronto Area. It also delivers directly to customers throughout Ontario. Chance knocks.

“Domestic companies, here in Ontario, have a special opportunity, because we are in Ontario,” Gash said.

The same is true of Craig de Blois. At the Toronto office, they wait for the grappa train to arrive.

“It will be a wonderful holiday,” she said.

Good for that.

Financial Post

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