Wine Sales Soar During Pandemic Says Leading Wine Educator Kevin Zraly

Posted: Oct 30, 2020



No one would argue that Kevin Zraly wasn’t one of the most seminal wine educators back in the 1970s, when Americans had so few approachable venues to learn the fundamentals of wine tasting. It was an era when California wines of quality were just emerging as a force in the market, and restaurants around America were beginning to list them on their menus. At the age of 25 he was appointed Wine Master at the spectacular Windows on the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center destroyed on 9/11. In 1976, he established his Windows on the World Wine School, which has now graduated more than 20,000 students and his Windows on the World Complete Wine Course book has been one of the best sellers in its field—3 million copies—and a new, revised edition has just appeared on the book’s 35th anniversary. He was the recipient the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011. I thought it would be a good time to take a perspective on the wine world, especially during the Covid crisis, by interviewing Zraly.

1. What projects were you involved with before Covid hit and what happened immediately following?

I was incredibly busy before the Covid lockdown. In 2019 I had traveled to more than 60 cities around the world for wine tastings and corporate events, and I was on the same pace for 2020. In addition, I had already started the Advanced Wine Classes in February and was in Napa Valley in early March at a CIA conference. While I was there, I was able to catch up with John Belcher, Dorothy Gaither and Warren Winiarski to celebrate their donation of their writings to the Warren Winiarski Wine Writers Collection at the UC Davis library.

2. How have wine sales been affected by Covid? Are people drinking more and eating at home?

I am certainly doing more of both! The irony of all of this is Prohibition! Exactly 100 years ago in 1920, Prohibition began, and alcohol was banned by the government. Now, in 2020, the government has decided that alcohol is an Essential Business and wine sales are soaring. I recently read an article that said online wine sales are up more than 250% from last year. My retail sources tell me that wine sales are booming, up anywhere from 25 to 50-plus percent.

Before Covid hit, my New Year's revolution was to drink every wine 20 years and older from my cellar, so isolation gave me a lot of time to do that. I also learned to cook! I never cooked before, as I ate out all the time. I did try to make blueberry muffins, which were pretty good, and sourdough bread, and while it was edible, I will leave all that to the bakers. I also rely on the Joy of Cooking cookbook, which has been in my house for more than 14 years, and I never even opened it until Covid hit. Now it's my go-to book for all things cooking related!

By John Mariani
10-29-2020
Source and complete article by: forbes.com



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