Our Producers Share Their Thoughts
As a wine club, Opimian is all about people. The Club connects our members across Canada, our producers around the world, our staff in Montreal and wine lovers everywhere. In light of the current global situation, we here at Opimian reached out to our producers featured in the Italy and Chablis Cellar Offering (C274) to see how they are faring in these unique and difficult times. Their answers were so personal and heartfelt that we decided to share them with you.
While there were common themes in their notes (they have had to figure out how to work remotely, and how to keep production and shipping going within an environment that is changing hourly), each offered a unique perspective. Here they are below in their own voices (with help from Google Translate and our multi-lingual staff).
One of the pillars of Opimian’s ethos from its inception has been connecting members to winemakers. It’s clear that it is a two-way street. The producers feel just as connected to us. This shared joy of wine brings us all closer together. It’s at times like this that communities such as our Club give us comfort in knowing that we support each other and care about all those of like mind.
Blandine and Bernard Perrin
“We thank you for your confidence and do our best to prepare your orders. We hope that you all pass this test in good conditions and remain fully confident in the future. The virus will be overcome! Stay safe and warmest wishes.
We are living in a historic moment as a result of a global health crisis. France, like the rest of the world, is in containment. With this letter, we want to share some news with you. How do we cope? Since day one, Monday, March 16, we have ceased all travel in order to contribute to the national containment effort to stop Covid-19.
We had anticipated this situation a few weeks ago by following the news from China. As a result, we expedited all the orders in progress, including those of Opimian for the Côtes du Rhône offer.
Since March 16th, we only answer customer requests via internet or telephone, as all wine sales in France and abroad are almost at a standstill due to the complexity of bottling and labelling while keeping the 1-meter safe distance and also with regard to hand cleaning.
We know that when work resumes, it will be very busy, because all the work not being done during containment will have to be carried out in a short time to respond to our customers as quickly as possible…but we will be ready for that, as we are putting a lot of effort into planning the return!
For the moment, our company has no stability problem thanks to the hard work we did from June 2019 to March 15, 2020 and the fact that we have been in business for a long time and enjoy a solid foundation.
About Domaine de Milhomme: Our nephew, Manuel, is able to continue working on the vineyard without any problem, the pruning is now finished and the vine sap is beginning to rise, at home we say that the vine “weeps,” it is the reflection of this sanitary drama.
We have been enjoying very nice weather and the peach trees are blooming. The old winegrowers say that the colour of the peach flowers tells us the colour the wine will be. Well, this year the flowers are very dark, so we should expect a deep red wine.”
Michel Lamblin – Lamblin & Fils
“We did not close the company because our customers are still placing orders with us and we have to deliver them. This is our job; we have to do it. The fact remains that we are very vigilant and follow all the instructions to ensure the best security for our employees and prevent the spread of the virus.
The Echeverria Team – Viña Echeverria
“We hope that you, your team and family members are fine and healthy. We would like to update you on our activities and the situation in Chile in general. Fortunately, the overall situation in Chile is not very bad, with relatively low rate of fatal cases. As the authorities think that the situation is under control, they took the decision of a measured “re-opening”. Just a few districts in Chile are still kept under the total lockdown, and our Molina Estate is not under quarantine so we are functioning very well and taking all the necessary precautions to keep our staff safe.
Here is a short video with Roberto talking about the impact of the virus on our winery and sending his regards from Chile. Stay safe.”
Gerd Stepp – Stepp
“So far all is well here… but things have slowed down and it is proving to be difficult to get work done such as bottling etc. The vineyards are great, spring just starting and there is lots of possibilities for isolation out there.”
Karoline Walch – Avenue
“The small daily gestures that especially we Italians love so much, such as shaking hands with someone, going to a restaurant or meeting with friends, suddenly are forbidden and make us understand how much we miss and need socialization…Nature continues its usual course and teaches us that everything goes on; the vines are close to budding and the colourful spring has arrived in the valleys, while the mountains are still immersed in the snow. A big “virtual“ hug from Alto Adige and let’s stay positive as together we will beat this threat in order to return to the usual convivial moments of joy soon!”
Roberta Lupi – Le Vigne di Sammarco
“As you surely know watching the TV, the situation in Italy is very serious and sad! Many of the companies are closed, whoever is able to work by home is working, the students are able to take classes trough video lessons, everyone is confined at home to avoid a further spread of the infection. Concerning the wine producers, the wineries that works with the HO.RE.CA. channel are in serious difficulty because all the public activities, such as wine bars, restaurants, hotels, etc, being closed, instead the ones producing wines for the GDO are working because the food retailers are logically open.
Surely such a nightmare will have a serious consequence even on the economy, not only in Italy but globally. However the worst aspect of such a surreal and horrible situation is that many people are passing away and this is terrible also because they die alone, without any comfort or contact with their families. We have to hope that everything will come to an end as soon as possible, but, in my opinion, it will take at minimum another several months to see a glimmer of light!”
Angelo Dalbello – San Sano
“This natural event requires that we split and isolate ourselves to win. But we also experience sadness, anxiety and feeling of isolation. Today we have a formidable weapon, technology. We can communicate, we can behave all together and defend our life and daily life, our hopes, our dreams from a threat like never before. We can be home with the things we love, including a bottle of our favourite wine.
If we walk hand in hand, we will get out of this moment maybe richer inside and make a better use of our gifts. We will not forget those are not with us any longer.”
Martina Gozzi – The Wine People
“We are a great group, and we are all very close. Things are getting challenging, but we will deal with it as a team and we are sure that finally everything is going to be fine…Andrà tutto bene, as we’ve been saying these last few days.
Regarding life in the fields, everything is incredible as always. Nature is such an amazing and strong miracle. We are having some beautiful, sunny days. Spring is coming and buds will blossom soon. A soft and gentle wind is blowing reminding us that again, everything’s gonna be fine… and the wine will always be great!”
Michael Palij – Winetraders
“The situation in Italy at the moment is dire and the entire country is in lock-down. Italy holds the dubious record (at the time of writing) of having the most deaths from Covid-19 in the world. I’m in touch with our producers every day and am always amazed at their concern for us in the UK – their biggest worry appears to be that we prevent what happened to them from happening to us. So far they have all escaped direct exposure, for which we are hugely grateful.
Their businesses (agriculture) are deemed ‘essential’ and so workers continue to report each day albeit in different cars and on different shifts. All personal contact has ceased, even within families. For a country as addicted to physical touch as the Italians, this is proving particularly trying! Touch wood, shipments in and out are still working although there are massive delays on the borders (up to 80 kms of trucks queuing to enter Austria at one point). Overall I am amazed by their strength of sprit; you can find endless examples online of impromptu operas and virtual feasting. Our thoughts are with them: Forza Italia!”
BLB Vignobles – Bruno Le Breton
“Spring is here, birds are singing, buds are bursting and the days are beautiful. In the vineyards, in the middle of nature, nothing suggests the huge challenge humanity is currently dealing with for its survival. Nature is doing well and the contrast with the new personnel regulations are striking. Among the vines danger seems to be far away; understanding that danger is coming from each one of us is unsettling. For five weeks now the country has been in confinement and we miss being in contact with our close ones and our friends. Through our bottles, we surely bring a little pleasure and sun at dinner tables around the world, and particularly in Canada. What a pleasure and what an honour! This makes our craft even more meaningful and, I hope, contributes to creating great moments at home. More than ever, our motto is relevant:Vinifions tous ensemble un monde meilleur (“Vinifying a better world together”). Together we will fight this virus, beyond borders and oceans, and we will build a future for us all to cherish. Be well.”
Floris & Victoria Lemstra – Château Canet
“We wanted to reach out to let you know that we are are thinking of you and thought we could share some of our news in the midst of this extraordinary crisis.
We feel extremely fortunate that our activity has not come to a complete standstill. While it is not ‘business as usual’, the vineyards are a daily reminder that mother nature is resilient. The vines are budding which is a reassuring sign that we will get through this and when we do, we look forward to raising a glass with you.
Our work is a true team effort and just before the ‘lock down’ we spent the day brainstorming and sharing ideas ” from the vineyard to the bottle”. We are grateful to each one of our team for their commitment and dedication.
We are both thankful and lucky that the bottling line is operational, albeit with a skeleton staff and respecting current safety standards. Our hope is to keep shipping wine and your cellar stocked for as long as we can. We hope that wherever you are, you and your loved ones are safe and able to stay healthy.”
Dani Santacreu – Clos Montblanc
“At Clos Montblanc, we work from home, and part of the staff in administration/logistics & production are in the wine cellar, since we are a food & beverage company and the government allows us to work in order to supply supermarkets & on-line sales. As you can imagine, in our cellar there are fewer people than usual for prevention, until everything gets normalized, but until today, we are delivering wines & Cavas to some customers. Thank you for your loyalty.”
Nicola Thornton – Spanish Palate
“We hope you are all ok over there! There has been some good news in Spain since April 25 with declining numbers so we are hopeful we are getting on top of this! We look forward to getting the next set of wines on the road in time. Here is my video message for Opimian members in these difficult times.”