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Wine tasting room sales drop 22% in February, says Napa Valley-based transaction software provider

Jitters over the new coronavirus may be cutting into wine tasting room revenues, according to a Napa Valley company that handles point-of-sale systems for several hundred North American wineries.

This comes as hotels and tourism boosters in Napa and Sonoma counties told the Business Journal that group and individual cancellations have been increasing as concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus have increased in recent weeks.

'Over the past weekend, we observed a 22% decrease in tasting room sales by volume compared to last month,' said Adrienne Stillman, marketing director for WineDirect, in an email to the Business Journal on March 10. 'This confirms the anecdotes we've been hearing from wineries: that guests are cancelling reservations and travel plans.'

This includes sales data from about 900 wineries in the U.S. and Canada for wine taken home from the venue or shipped to the visitor's residence, she said. This drop in sales also takes into account higher-than-usual sales over the Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day weekend in mid-February, she said.

What also suggests that this drop in sales is focused on visits to Wine Country is WineDirect didn't see any meaningful change in sales processed through the other direct channels it handles, namely e-commerce and clubs, Stillman said. Roughly half of the company's 1,800 vintner customers use its point-of-sale management software.

'It's something that we've been talking about for years, and certainly in times when tourism suffers, whether it's (the COVID-19 virus) or wildfires, it only reinforces the importance of having a robust strategy around online sales as an alternative to in-person sales,' Stillman said.

WineDirect expanded to a 268,000-square-foot highly automated order-fulfillment center in American Canyon in 2017 and has opened fulfillment centers on the Calfornia Central Coast and Oregon's Willamette Valley in the past few years.

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