Lucía Romero, Argentina: ”Perhaps we will become more focused on what consumers want”

Lucía Romero.
Krister Bengtsson
Published 26-March-2020
Interview

”We all understand the measures of the quarantine, but for businesses, it could be devastating so we need to think differently and hope that things improve in time,” says Lucía Romero, Managing Director at El Porvenir de Cafayate.

How is the situation for you right now?
”Argentina is in a preventative and compulsory lockdown until the 31st of March, so everyone must stay in the houses and most shops are closed, with the exception of those dedicated to health, food, and maintenance of the cities. Industries related to food can continue to work, taking the necessary and recommend steps to avoid the spread of the covid-19.”

How is your daily work affected by corona? Are you still allowed to be out in the vineyards for example?
”We are at the end of the harvest, but there’s still a lot to do with the wines in the middle of the fermentation process, so we are working full time as always with adjustments in the schedule. We can’t afford to stop now because we risk losing the wines from this vintage, so workers understand this and we are all taking the right measures to take care of them and ourselves and to continue our daily work in the winery and vineyards. We have a permission that everyone has to carry to be able to move around Cafayate. The only part we have closed completely is tourism, and this has affected us because we were doing very well in that area, with lots of visits and tastings, lunches and stays in our vineyard.”

How is the situation affecting your sales? And now that many restaurants are closed, do people buy in stores or online and drink at home instead?
”As I was saying, the most affected area is tourism, and we were counting on that income as part of our business – and now it will be closed for a long time. Also, since restaurants, hotels and wine stores are closed, we are losing the sales in that area, and we don´t know if they will be back soon. We are counting on online sales, but not too many shops have that system, and also consumers here are not that used to buying online, but we expect this to pick up under these extraordinary circumstances.”

What measures have you taken to secure the business for the future?
”We are talking with big online platforms like Mercado Libre to be able to sell our wines directly to consumers and ship them to their houses. We are also building a database with customers that already bought our wines or visited our winery, within Argentina, to reach to them to sell them directly.”

”We’re also reaching out to our importers outside Argentina, like the US, the UK and other places in the EU to start selling more online so that the sales can continue.”

What is the general feeling among winemakers in your area right now? What do your friends and colleagues think about the situation?
”We are all worried not only because of health issues but also about how our wineries will survive this situation. In Argentina, we are used to economic or political crises but this is very different and challenging, so we have to be flexible, and open to change, and of course, reach to consumers to sell them directly. We all understand the measures of the quarantine, but for businesses, it could be devastating so we need to think differently and hope that things improve in time.”

What long term effects do you think this crisis will have, both for you personally and for the wine scene in your country in general?
”I believe that we will value more the things we use to take for granted, like gathering with friends and family, meeting people, travelling, feeling safe and having good health. For the wine thing, I think it will be hard for smaller producers, but perhaps we will become more focused on what consumers want, and to try and reach them directly.”

Are the wine producers getting any support from the government at all?
”Not for the moment, but we can continue to work and to export, but hopefully we will receive and economic aid regarding taxes or wages and social benefits of our employees.”

What do you miss most right now?
”I miss my family, my friends, I miss getting together to enjoy a great talk with a glass of wine. I miss going out to restaurants and travelling, ​but hopefully, we will all learn from this. I´m sure life won´t be the same after this, but perhaps it can become better because we will appreciate more the things we have.”

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