WSTA Members Show Their Fighting Spirit This St. George’s Day

Many businesses whose income has evaporated during the coronavirus lockdown are facing a long wait for things to return to some kind of normal.

Amongst those fighting for their futures are WSTA members who have been forced to adapt their businesses to find a way to keep trading and save jobs.

Despite all the obstacles thrown in their path many are going above and beyond their day to day work and are offering a helping hand to communities.

Restaurants, pubs and their suppliers across Britain have become local lifelines, delivering food and drink free of charge to the housebound, isolated and key workers. Some have started making hand sanitiser and others are finding ways to keep a nation in lockdown entertained by offering free tutored tastings online.

Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said:

“The government’s intention to maintain social distancing in the hospitality sector for longer than other parts of the economy means that hospitality businesses and their suppliers will need additional support for longer.

The WSTA is lobbying hard for the government to clarify that support for the hospitality industry includes suppliers – so that local authorities make the right decisions about who does or does not qualify for business rate exemptions and grants.

The outbreak of coronavirus has brought with it both emotional and financial trauma for people throughout the country. But during times of adversity we often see the best coming out in people. For this reason, we thought St George’s Day was the ideal time to celebrate just a few of the English wine and spirit companies who, despite their reduced cashflow and pressures of excise duty payments, are doing their bit to keep people in jobs and at the same time give something back.”

Here are just a few shining examples of English firms doing their best to help communities and finding inventive ways to continue to trade:

Jascots Wine Merchants is still open for business despite usually sell exclusively to pubs, restaurants and hotels. After seeing their clients disappear overnight following lockdown the Jascots team did not throw in the towel, instead they changed their business model to offer wine deliveries to the public. The company, based in north west London, assembled drivers from within their workforce and are offering trade prices for wine delivered for free inside the M25 or with a delivery charge of £10 outside. In some cases, communities have come together to co-ordinate a Jascots order to their area for a more environmentally friendly wine delivery.

Brighton Gin on the Sussex south coast is one of the many distilleries across the country to have turned their hand to making hand sanitiser. For every bottle of hand sanitiser bought from their two are donated to frontline key workers and community groups.

Chapel Down winery in Kent is offering free delivery on all orders and have also begun a series of free virtual wine tastings with a Question and Answer session by their Head Winemaker, Josh Donaghay-Spire. The tutored tastings go out live on Instagram once a week and anyone who wants to learn more about English wine is encouraged to send in questions for Josh to answer. Today it’s Chapel Down’s CEO Frazer Thompson who will take a turn at hosting a live Q&A session at 6.00pm this evening to raise a glass to St George’s Day and to answer questions from customers.

Hatch Mansfield a wine agency based in Berkshire has boosted its support to The Drinks Trust charity with a combination of donations and fundraising initiatives planned during the pandemic. For every order of its regular promotional activity placed throughout May and June Hatch Mansfield are donating £10 to the Drinks Trust. The Drinks Trust has been providing care and assistance to drinks industry workforce since 1886. Demand for their services is at an all-time high and has led them to set up a Covid-19 Emergency fund as well as a specialist mental health support helpline on 0800 915 4610.

Chase Distillery in Herefordshire have teamed up with its sister company Willy’s and are now also producing liquid hand sanitiser. They are donating 30,000 units to frontline medical professionals and key workers in their local Herefordshire & Worcestershire areas and have also donated several tonnes of potatoes to local food banks. To entertain their online community they have created the campaign #ChaseAtHome where the wider Chase team and bar tender friends including The Savoy & The Lanesborough have been producing how-to cocktail videos at home, available to watch for free on their social channels.

Ridgeview winery in East Sussex has introduced a new initiative to support the charity, Hospitality Action. Ridgeview donate £2 for every bottle of Ridgeview Sparkling Wine sold online until the end of May to Hospitality Action. All orders no matter how big or small are being delivered free of charge across the UK with £2 for every bottle going direct to the charity. Hospitality Action is a charity that has been supporting the UK hospitality trade for over 180 years, helping hospitality people in difficulty or crisis.