The east coast wine industry faces a Christmas crisis, as retailers prepare to run out of Christmas barrels.
Buying champagne in winter is all the rage. But a pending shutdown of about one in every five barrels at The Stone Tree Liquor store in Rensselaer, N.Y., could leave customers high and dry when it comes to stocking up on the coveted bubbly at Christmastime.
With just two months left in the 2018 calendar year, and probably a lot more in 2019, retailers in upstate New York will only have 43,000 bottles of the holiday tradition left. That’s 53 percent of the state’s inventory, according to Todd Love, the store’s president.
With holiday sales predicted to be down to $27 million this year after a nearly 13 percent drop in 2017, Love isn’t the only business struggling. According to our partners at CFO Magazine, retail wine sales are down four percent, bars are down 3.5 percent, and restaurants are down 4.1 percent.
To make matters worse, the New York State Liquor Authority has told Love and his cousin to expect their sales tax on wine to disappear by September. Love says he might have to shutter his store unless Gov. Andrew Cuomo commits more resources to help cover the shortage. But he expects Cuomo to be all too aware of the impact in the area.
According to Rick Myott, professor of alcohol studies at the University of Rochester, increasing government regulation and possible increases in taxes have hurt New York’s wine industry, which is centred in the Finger Lakes region. New York ranks 11th among states in wine production, with an average of 10.4 million barrels of wine produced each year.
Myott says New York lags behind some of its neighbors: Virginia produces an average of 12.5 million barrels of wine a year, Pennsylvania produces an average of 17.5 million barrels, and the average from New Jersey is 14.5 million barrels. That combined with rising prices could keep this year from turning out to be a good one for local wine consumers.