Considering the impact of travel and movement restrictions, tourism and catering services have been among the worst affected economic sectors. To compensate for their losses, adjust their business plans to the situation, and promote online wine ordering, Hungarian winemakers have launched the “Message in the Bottle 2020” campaign. Nonetheless, with the easing of restrictions, wine regions expect an increase in attendance.
Etyek is a Hungarian village surrounded by vineyards, approximately 30 kilometres from Budapest. As the weather gets warmer, many tourists visit the Etyek-Buda wine region for its famous fresh, crispy white and sparkling wines. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated tourism in Hungary, and wineries have also been severely affected, CGTN reported.
“We were hit hard by the pandemic, we had no guests for three months. But we are not yet bankrupt, we are doing everything with our own hands, we are a family business,”
winemaker Csaba Tiszperger said. Their business is rather versatile; they cure meat, make traditional bread, pickles, and syrups from local fruits, and produce organic wine. Despite their recent major expenses – they built a new oven and improved the dining area −, the Tiszperger family did not seek the government’s help.
“We are on our own, we didn’t get any support from the government, maybe I could have applied for it but I didn’t because we can do it ourselves.”
As far as the pandemic’s immediate impact on wine sales goes, wine consumption increased during the isolation period, and people started stockpiling because of the uncertainty. Carlos Coelho, the owner of Haraszthy Vineyards, explained that he experienced an approximately 15% decrease in wine sales, but it was compensated by the increase in online sales.
Wineries’ income also depends on on-site restaurants, weddings, and concerts. In a regular summer season, hundreds of people would attend concerts and other events in the Haraszty amphitheatre. This year, all events above 500 people are banned until mid-August in Hungary, but weddings of less than 200 people can be held from June 15.
“That’s going to be probably the biggest loss, we do about seven to 10 events a year, and since it holds 750-plus people, I don’t think we can advertise any of that at this time.”
Winemakers are hopeful that with the easing of restrictions, visitors will gradually return to the region.