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Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Latest Updates

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Steve Finlan Steve Finlan / 10 March 2020

Last updated: 27th March 2020

We hope that you are well and adjusting to these unusual times.

We want to reassure you that we are working hard to reopen The Wine Society when it is safe to do so. Until then, orders and deliveries remain suspended and we are not taking applications for membership or new subscriptions to our Wine Without Fuss and Vintage Cellar Plan schemes. Our Tastings & Events programme remains cancelled until the end of June and our Cellar Showroom in Stevenage is closed until further notice.

We are keeping our FAQs section up to date and a smaller home-based Member Services team is working to ensure that you receive the communication you need. Please be patient if you need to contact Member Services as they are dealing with an unprecedented volume of enquiries.

During this time we also hope that members and non-members can continue to enjoy our online 'Discovery' content, share our love of wine and spend time together on our Community pages.

Our organisation is a family of members, employees and winemakers and, just as in any family, keeping people safe is our priority. This approach is also consistent with the core government policy of staying at home, flattening the curve and helping the NHS.

Information and advice are changing daily, and we are sure that this will continue, but this core message remains the same. We reached our decision because we could not be sure that we could keep our employees – and, by extension, their families – safe. We do not want to place our employees at risk, nor do we want to compel them to come to work.

Thank you for your overwhelming support. We have been in touch with our extended family of winemakers and all of them fully support our decision. You may be interested to know that those in the badly affected parts of France, Italy and Spain have been very vocally supportive, being closer to the peak spread of Covid-19 in their countries.

Our Committee is also fully behind the decision to close and we are in close contact, working together to navigate these choppy waters.

We are striving to make this break as short as possible and are developing a plan to reopen in a safe and controlled way, using a smaller (and fully paid) volunteer workforce, who are comfortable and safe to work.

These are not normal times and it is unlikely that we will achieve a normal level of business service and support for a while, but as usual, we will do our best. We will endeavour to provide timely and effective communication as this rapidly evolving situation continues to develop. In the meantime, thank you again to you all for your understanding and support.

Members' Comments (37)

"Really clear and helpful advice, thank you. Is there scope for (more) online tastings?"

Mr Steve Cropper (17-Mar-2020)

"Now there's a good idea!"

Ms Sue Harvey (17-Mar-2020)

"Hi Steve! Absolutely - we're putting a plan together in the next day or so, and there's already a virtual tasting in the calendar on our Community on 9th April: https://community.thewinesociety.com/t/new-twstaste-virtual-tasting-first-taste-of-two-new-exhibition-wines-thurs-9th-april-8-9pm/6666
We'd love for you to join us.
Best wishes,
Laura
Social Media and Community Manager"

Mrs Laura J Vickers-Green (19-Mar-2020)

"Fab, thanks Laura. I'll check it out. all the best, Steve"

Mr Steve Cropper (19-Mar-2020)

"As an 80+ year old, I wish you well and and hope you all escape the dreaded virus. If your carriers don't want to make personal contact, it will be OK to leave the package in the porch as instructed and then to ring the bell and beat a hasty retreat!
Until things are back to normal - best wishes!
David Prosser"

Mr David J Prosser (18-Mar-2020)

"Thanks so much for your understanding, Mr Prosser! Best wishes to you too.
Laura
Community and Social Media Manager"

Mrs Laura J Vickers-Green (19-Mar-2020)

"I know you aren't turning anyone away but would you prefer us to run down our home stocks for a bit longer and let the rush work itself out?

Or is it actually helpful to get a bunch of cash in now given the uncertain times ahead?

"

Mr Gordon Shannon (21-Mar-2020)

"Hi Mr Shannon, Thanks so much for this thoughtful question. We'd never want to turn an order away from our members, however if you're not in a rush for your wine, it might be worth waiting a week or so to order, as our delivery times are longer than usual at the moment thanks to exceptional demand. It's up to you, though - we're certainly still taking orders! Best wishes, Laura (social media and Community manager)"

(23-Mar-2020)

"Perhaps you should temporarily abandon the need to sign for the wines? Ring the bell, await acknowledgement and then leave the wine on the doorstep / porch etc - or leave in the designated space anyway."

Mr Andy Jowett (22-Mar-2020)

"Hi Mr Jowett, yes indeed! Our own Society Van drivers have been instructed to ring the bell and then maintain social distance for mutual safety - and we're very happy to leave the wines in the designated safe space too. Best wishes, Laura (social media and Community manager)"

(23-Mar-2020)

"The article says "You may also want to update your 'safe place' preference or add one to your account to make the delivery process even safer."
I have looked under my account but can't see how to add this information. Can someone point me in the right direction, please?"

Mr Stephen Brown (23-Mar-2020)

"Hi Mr Brown, sorry about that! If you log in, click 'My Account' at the top of the screen, and then scroll down to click 'Manage Addresses' on the left-hand menu, you'll see all your stored delivery addresses. To add a 'safe place' preference, click 'Edit' on the chosen address, and then there will be a box called 'Delivery Instructions' where you can add your designated safe space to leave your delivery. Click 'Save Address' and this will be... Read more > stored for future orders. I hope that helps? Best wishes, Laura (social media and Community manager)"

(23-Mar-2020)

"Just read your note explaining your position about ceasing to take new orders and making deliveries. I admit I did log on to try and replenish my stock but I wholeheartedly agree with what you are doing. Well done. I hope all Wine Society employees and members can stay safe. See you on the other side."

Mr Douglas Cleary (24-Mar-2020)

"Thank you so much, Mr Cleary! We wish you all the best and will be reopen for business as soon as possible.
Laura
Community and Social Media Manager"

(27-Mar-2020)

"Think this is all very sensible thank you. Do you think you will still run the Barolo 2016 offer? Or should we look to order elsewhere. Hope you're all staying safe."

Mrs Alexandra Harrison (25-Mar-2020)

"Hi Mrs Harrison, thank you for your kind words. We've had to delay the Barolo 2016 for now, but we will be offering it at a later date - we do of course completely understand if this means you purchase some elsewhere. Best wishes to you, and stay well, Laura (social media and Community manager)"

Mrs Laura J Vickers-Green (27-Mar-2020)

"Thanks, if you're definitely going to run it, I'll wait. Would always rather buy from the WS."

Mrs Alexandra Harrison (27-Mar-2020)

"Why on earth have you stopped deliveries! Amazon haven't, the post office haven't and there are many other delivey services still operating. There is no need for your drivers to come in contact with customers and what pray happens to existing orders?
Fortunately local supermarkets are still selling wine and my excellent local wine merchant will deliver, they at least have a sense of responsibility to their customers.
Yours
MT H"

Mr Malcolm T Horrobin (25-Mar-2020)

"Dear Mr Horrobin, thank you for your feedback. Other smaller merchants will undoubtedly have different ways of operating that don't involve a central warehouse, such as ours, and so may have found quicker ways to keep their smaller numbers of staff protected. Our organisation is a family of members, employees and winemakers and, just as in any family, keeping people safe is our priority. This approach is also consistent with the core government... Read more > policy of staying at home, flattening the curve and helping the NHS. We will be looking to reopen as soon as it's safe to do so and thank you for your patience. Best wishes, Laura (Social Media and Community Manager)
"

(27-Mar-2020)

"Thanks for the update - be well and continue to take care of your great staff!"

Mr Mark Vogel (25-Mar-2020)

"Thank you, Mark! Our best wishes to you too.
"

(27-Mar-2020)

"The Government has just clarified that Off- Licences are now classified as an essential retailer, so could you please review your earlier decision to stop selling wine? Many other ‘on line’ wine merchants are continuing to serve the community.

My experience is that on delivery the driver often leaves the wine in the secure place previously indicated, as most homeowners are out. On the occasions I have been in I have asked him to leave ... Read more > by the garage and in doing so have to no closer than about three metres from the driver.

All other delivery companies have adapted to the Covid-19 rules, so I am very disappointed by your decision to effectively close.

I fear we may loose many members, which would be such a shame for all of us.

Thank you for your consideration.

Malcolm Miller
"

Mr Malcolm P Miller (25-Mar-2020)

"Dear Mr Miller, thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback, and we do appreciate your concerns. We are aware that certain businesses selling alcohol from shop premises have been added to the list of 'essentials'. However, it is not clear, and certainly not confirmed that alcohol as a product is an essential. We are seeking clarity and keeping this under review. In the mean time, keeping our members, employees and winemakers safe is... Read more > our top priority, and we're working hard to reopen The Society as soon as it's safe to do so. Best wishes, Laura (Social Media and Community Manager)"

(27-Mar-2020)

"At the very time people need every morale booster going you remove at a stroke a valuable psychological prop. I fail to understand the risks of moving boxes from a warehouse to a delivery van. If the supermarkets took your attitude we would be in a fine mess.
Let's hope you reconsider this deplorable decision, especially as the Government have now added off licences to essential shops that should remain open."

Mr Roger Blaber (25-Mar-2020)

"Dear Mr Blaber, we're sorry to have disappointed you. We are aware that certain businesses selling alcohol from shop premises have been added to the list of 'essentials'. However, it is not clear, and certainly not confirmed that alcohol as a product is an essential. We are seeking clarity and keeping this under review. In the mean time, our main priority is to keep our employees - and by extension, their families - safe. We're working hard to... Read more > reopen as quickly as we can once it's safe to do so. Best wishes, Laura (Social Media and Community Manager)"

(27-Mar-2020)

"https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52033260"

Mr Ross Paton (25-Mar-2020)

"Dear Mr Paton, We are aware that certain businesses selling alcohol from shop premises have been added to the list of 'essentials'. However, it is not clear, and certainly not confirmed that alcohol as a product is an essential. We are seeking clarity and keeping this under review. We're working hard to reopen as quickly as we can once it's safe to do so. Best wishes, Laura (Social Media and Community Manager)"

(27-Mar-2020)

"At this worrying time may I give you a piece of good news. A bottle of The Society's Alsatian Wine 1996 had lain forgotten in my cellar. Two nights ago I opened it. The colour was perfect and although the elan of the gewurtztraminer was not quite so evident it made an extraordinarily congenial aperitif. It had indeed worn its age well.

Robin Bridgeman MemNo. 46521"

Viscount Bridgeman (25-Mar-2020)

"Dear Viscount Bridgeman, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about what sounds like a very memorable wine experience! Wines' capacity to age will never cease to amaze us - we're thrilled that after 24 years this Alsace white was still able to give such enjoyment. Very best wishes to you, Laura (Community and Social Media Manager)"

(27-Mar-2020)

"Now that off-licences have been deemed an essential service, wasn't abruptly shutting down the Wine Society a tad excessive?"

Mr Robert James (25-Mar-2020)

"Dear Mr James, We are aware that certain businesses selling alcohol from shop premises have been added to the list of 'essentials'. However, it is not clear, and certainly not confirmed that alcohol as a product is an essential. We are seeking clarity and keeping this under review. We're working hard to reopen as quickly as we can once it's safe to do so. Best wishes, Laura (Social Media and Community Manager)"

(27-Mar-2020)

"I have just arranged for my wine instead to come from Majestic.
The first of two deliveries from the Wine Society was supposed to have come tomorrow. I have been a member/shareholder for many years and now feel abandoned. I am in the age group that is supposed to stay at home. Therefore, we depend on deliveries. One came from Waitrose this morning. Another next week comes from the Donald Russell butchery. Next week, too, one now from... Read more > Majestic, which seems to care more for us than you do.
The Wine Society is more concerned with itself than with us. That will be remembered.
We have heard nothing direct from you at all, only Finlan's letter on your website, which tells us you are closed. This letter was posted on the very day that the government added off-licences to the list of essential businesses that can open. They open. You close. You have broken your contract with me. And you still have my money.
Frankly, I am seething
Geoffrey Elliott 258128
"

Mr Geoffrey Elliott (26-Mar-2020)

"I do understand the difficulties but I find this a disappointing decision. Delivery firms are still running with "distant" delivery confirmation. I could understand you saying that you can only handle a certain number of orders becuase of distancing in the workplace but a full shut down seems excessive - are you putting staff on furlough to get the government subsidy? Or are we as shareholders paying staff salaries? Are the Directors assuming... Read more > that money is no issue here?"

Mr Gordon P Smith (26-Mar-2020)

"I understand the need to be cautious and to protect employees. However, how do The Post Office, Ocado, Amazon, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and so many others manage to meet their obligations to colleagues while continuing to serve their customers?

Peter Maskell"

Mr Peter Maskell (27-Mar-2020)

"Dear Mr Maskell, thank you for getting in touch. Of course, every company is different, both in its operating methods and its priorities. Our organisation is a family of members, employees and winemakers and, just as in any family, keeping people safe is our priority. We are striving to make this break as short as possible and are developing a plan to re-open as soon as it's safe to do so. We really do appreciate your understanding. Best wishes,... Read more > Laura (Community and Social Media Manager)"

(27-Mar-2020)

"While I apprecite the care and concern you have for your staff - our staff, this is a co-operative! - I can't help wondering why other retailers are able to deliver safely but the WS can't. As Mr Prosser says,

.....it will be OK to leave the package in the porch as instructed and then to ring the bell and beat a hasty retreat!

Dominick Henry"

Mr Dominick Henry (27-Mar-2020)

"Alas, with my order 'stuck in the warehouse' my wife and I are both in the 'dare not go out' age group, have resorted to sharing a 330ml can of lemonade and a dash of Pimms instead of a nice glass of white wine in the early evening. Please, for the sake of our sanity (and probable tooth rot) reconsider your abrupt closure.
Bev Gray St Neots."

Mr Bev Gray (27-Mar-2020)

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