The wine industry is facing its worst crisis in memory, and many wineries may not survive the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, industry professionals have warned.
The usual markets have all but dried up, and sales across the board have plummeted by at least 60 per cent leaving wineries facing massive losses, along with a raft of other problems.
These include ongoing storage problem as wine vats remain full with last year’s vintage. The wine would usually have been shipped abroad or free-flowing at the island’s hotels, restaurants and bars by now.
Grape growers have also inevitably been hit with many now reliant on the government’s ‘green harvesting’ programme.
Under the EU’s wine support programme, wine-producing member states like Cyprus may currently offer financial support for several measures, including green harvesting –
the process of removing extra grape bunches from a vine when young – which will ensure there isn’t a glut of excess grapes this year, industry professionals informed the Sunday Mail.
The programme offers compensation for growers that apply to the government and meet the criteria, Stephanos Stephanou head oenologist at Sodap’s Kamaterena winery in Stroumpi told the Sunday Mail.
“I’m not sure if it will be possible to absorb the number of grapes this year. Along with many others (wineries), we contacted the government a long time ago concerning our growers and the green harvest. However, this doesn’t apply to all types of grapes,” he said.
Varieties of grapes grown in Cyprus included in the programme are Xinisteri, Shiraz, Mavro and Cardigan.
To apply, the vineyard must be registered in the Viticultural Register, be of a specific size and planted by 2015. Vines planted since 2016 and later are not eligible.
The plan is nationwide and has a budget of around 1.3 million euros, which Stephanou said isn’t enough. It will be distributed at 40 per cent for Paphos and Limassol and 20 per cent for Larnaca.
“The wine industry is facing enormous problems; sales for all of us aren’t good. It’s a disaster. Coronavirus has meant no tourism, which is the main source of wine sales, usually through hotels and restaurants. This income has gone.”
Staff at Soap, which is a co-operative, are trying to make space available for the upcoming harvest and will do the best for the grape growers as they are all members, he said, adding that there will be a surplus of grapes this year.