WineGB has repositioned its marketing activities to support the industry through the coronavirus crisis, with many businesses having been hit by closure of cellar door sales and supply to the hospitality industry.

It has now revealed a new series of online weekly socials, as well as #EnglishWineNight, which is an event on social media that takes place every Friday at 7pm for an hour. The latter follows in the footsteps of the “highly successful” #theBIGenglishwinegoodfriday, which took place on April 10.

The series of Wine Nights will include a focus each week on a different regional vineyard association in the UK. The series kicked off last week with #WelshWineNight.

This week moves to England with the first region, Wessex, in the spotlight. Wessex covers Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Isle of Wight. Each evening includes online tastings, videos posted by winemakers, Q&A sessions and followers are encouraged to post photos of themselves enjoying English wines.

This is just one of several initiatives that WineGB is rolling out to support members during the Covid-19 pandemic. It said the key objective is simple: to help UK wine producers to sell their wine and enable consumers to buy it.

Initiatives include a ‘Shop Local’ page on the WineGB website to highlight vineyards that are selling online, together with retailers that stock English and Welsh wines.

Simon Robinson, chairman of WineGB said: “We’ve been hit pretty hard by Covid-19 and the lockdown, although as part of the agricultural sector we are permitted to continue some of our operations compared to some other industries.

“Many have lost significant business through closure of cellar doors and tastings and of course the shutting down of the hospitality industry which is a major source of income for some. However, we are greatly encouraged to see the increase in internet sales over the last weeks which is helping many.”

English Wine Week and Welsh Wine Week has been reset for this year – given the remaining uncertainty in May and ongoing restrictions it is moved to June, the new dates being Saturday June 20 – Sunday June 28.

Julia Trustram-Eve, WIneGB’s marketing manager, said: “We are hoping that as some restrictions are lifted there will be greater opportunity to encourage activity to celebrate the Week.

“We know that English Wine Week is such a popular campaign for vineyards and the many outlets they supply and we wanted to ensure we could give maximum support in light of the changing circumstances this year. Our wish is that come June we will all be able to look ahead to the summers months with a bit more hope.”

Currently the situation remains unknown as to exactly how far openings will be taking place so there will be reduced hard copy promotional items and more of a digital approach to promotions. Any activity taking place, including virtual tastings and tutorials, will be listed prominently on the WineGB website and promoted across all its social channels.

Additional activities and initiatives will be announced nearer to the Week itself. WineGB is appealing to all retailers and vineyards to come on board and share their activities.

Other initiatives to be introduced over the next few weeks will include a series of ‘virtual postcards’ from the UK wine industry, and for the first and only time, the industry’s magazine, The Grape Press, will be released as a free digital download, to share with interested consumers and trade.

This journal will contain a range of news items, review of activities as well as technical articles covering all aspects of viticulture, winemaking and wine business in the UK.

WineGB is also supporting industry members by providing business and marketing guidance which include daily advice bulletins to share updated information from government and other key organisations and will soon introduce a series of webinars to help with business and marketing related skills.

Robinson said: “We felt it important that during these exceptional times this should be extended to all those in the industry and not just our members – it is the right thing to do.”