Sarasota restaurants face rising wine prices and delivery delays
As is the case with many industries, supply chain delays and staffing shortages are affecting winemakers and wine distributors and, therefore, local restaurants.
According to Marc Grimaud, owner of Café Gabbiano in Siesta Key, wine prices are rising and need to be constantly monitored to remain attractive. Shipping delays, especially with imports, also cause backups – another real problem. Staffing shortages are primarily manifested in the reduced number of truck drivers, resulting in fewer trucks and missed orders. To combat this, restaurateurs like Grimaud continued to sell wine directly to the public, and some even deliver, a trend that 11 states have adopted.
Marcello Aquino, the owner and chef of Marcello Ristorante Italiano in Sarasota, faces similar issues, but has different ways of coping. As a high-end restaurant, he says his customers don’t mind the price increase, but it does affect the availability of certain wines and ingredients; crab meat that costs $30 makes it impossible to serve, he says. He retails wine but does not promote it, and the shortage of truckers also means late or no deliveries for him.
The lack of delivery drivers is a national problem, due in part to the consolidation of wine distributors nationwide, as well as wineries being sold to conglomerates. The shift to online ordering by consumers that kicked into high gear during the Covid-19 pandemic has also affected delivery efficiency and forced sellers to fill gaps. Finally, competition from other sources, such as Amazon, has prompted truckers to pursue new careers.
Michael Klauber of Michael’s on East says he’s blessed with a substantial wine inventory (over 1,000 bottles), so wine supply issues aren’t an issue. He says staff shortages are easing and levels are close to normal, although lunch service remains closed. In more positive news, Klauber says the currently strong dollar gives Americans an advantage when buying French wine.
At Mattison, owner and chef Paul Mattison says he’s had few issues with staff shortages or inflation, but supply chain issues have also affected glass makers who produce wine bottles. Prices are also up, but he says wine events (like the one below) are helping his bottom line and attracting new customers.
Upcoming wine events
Daou Vineyard & Winery Dinner at Forty-one from Mattison, 7275 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 18. The event includes five courses with matching wines. $125 per person. For a reservation, call (941) 921-3400.
Bob McGinn has spent his entire career in the wine industry – forming wine clubs, working in wine sales marketing, and engaging in all facets of the winemaking process, including vineyard management, fermentation and yeast analysis. He has developed wine programs for companies such as Marriott, Sheraton and Smith & Wollensky, and consults local restaurants. You can read more about McGinn’s work at gulfcoastwinejournal.com.