Florida wineries face possible closures as business dries up

A Central Florida winery said that the COVID-19 pandemic could set Florida's wine industry back nearly a decade, with some wineries even in jeopardy of being shut down.

With this, a state association is now calling on people to support local wineries.

For example, Hutchinson Farm Winery in Orange County could close down if things don't turn around soon. Tourists were the cheese to this wine vineyard's success but with fewer people traveling, business is said to have dried up 8 percent.

"Some of the months we made $99 for the whole month -- from $5,000 and $6,000 a month. You can't live on that. You can't run a business on that," Sherry Hutchinson, co-owner of Hutchinson Farm Winery said.

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She said that the seven-year winery had its best sales month in February and the worst in March. The obstacles for survival include not being able to make wine because of unsold products to high shipping costs.

According to a state website, there are only two dozen Florida certified farm wineries. The other co-owner of the business said that he knows several are considering closing.

"It's very hard. And so I am not sure that everyone will survive it," Sarah Aschliman, Vice President of Florida Wine and Grape Growers Association said. She explained that small wineries took a big hit when they had to close for six months because they were considered bars. Most of them rely on tasting turning into sales.

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"A lot of them have resort to online sales," she added. It will take time for wineries to get creative and survive. "Everyone who is making that local product here in Florida, support them. Because we need it right now. More than ever."

The Hutchinson Farm Winery is open for business on the weekend and is limiting tastings to six people. The Wine and Grape Growers Association said that it may take a while, but they believe the industry will rebound eventually.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.