Covid pressures force wine tasting center into hibernation

Wine Station owner Angela Wentworth has decided to put the Wine Station into hibernation from March 12 until favorable business conditions return.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF/Marlborough Express

Wine Station owner Angela Wentworth has decided to put the Wine Station into hibernation from March 12 until favorable business conditions return.

The Wine Station is about to temporarily close as Covid-19 continues to affect small businesses.

Wine Station owner Angela Wentworth said she was “unfortunately” putting the business into hibernation from March 12 due to Omicron and uncertainty about its potential impact.

“After Christmas, when Omicron became more present and people started to care more about it, we found that there were fewer people traveling, they were hesitant to use vaccine passes and that people were just very tired of going out.

“There were no government relief programs at this stage, and we were just very uncertain what it would mean for our business, if any of the staff had hired Omicron.”

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Wentworth said she is grateful for the support of the community and the work of her six employees.

“Our team has been wonderfully resilient and dedicated during these difficult times.

“We certainly wouldn’t have achieved what we have without them and the loyalty of our customers,” she said.

The Chocolate Station was a successful addition to the Wine Station, but was not enough to get the business through the winter period.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF

The Chocolate Station was a successful addition to the Wine Station, but was not enough to get the business through the winter period.

Opened in January 2018 in the old Blenheim train station, the tasting room features local wines and food.

Wentworth said their suppliers were understanding because they were small businesses like themselves.

“They are in the same boat, having to make financial decisions, neither of them was upset or angry with our decision.

“They could relate to the situation we were in, and they’re really keen to stay in touch with us and be a key supply again when we reopen in the spring into the summer,” Wentworth said.

While waiting for busier months, many local businesses have to deal with a “very quiet” city.

Blenheim businessman Owen Rarity, who runs a restaurant and bistro in town, said he started noticing a drop in December when the vaccine pass was introduced.

“As the cases grow every day, it becomes quieter and quieter.

“But we kind of forgot that we’re triple, we’re all wearing a mask and, and we’re in a pretty safe environment, especially in hospitality.”

Dolce restaurant and Cleghorn Bistro & Bar owner Owen Rarity said that as Covid cases increased, the town became noticeably calmer.

Scott Hammond / Stuff

Dolce restaurant and Cleghorn Bistro & Bar owner Owen Rarity said that as Covid cases increased, the town became noticeably calmer.

Rarity said local support was key.

“The more businesses in the city suffer, the more likely they are to disappear, and we’ll end up with a city full of boring chain stores because that’s what’s going to happen.”

“It can also bring out a whole generation of experienced businessmen.”

A report on the Marlborough town center health check prepared for the council between December and February found that pedestrians are increasingly demanding more from the CBD when it comes to improvements, including food and retail outlets, pedestrian areas and a consistent vibe throughout the CBD.

Blenheim CBD is in good financial shape, but more could be done from a pedestrian point of view.

Scott Hammond / Stuff

Blenheim CBD is in good financial shape, but more could be done from a pedestrian point of view.

This was the sixth health check prepared for the council, with five further studies carried out in 2011, 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020.

“It seems that pedestrians in Blenheim seek out the same developments year after year, given the decreasing percentage of people who think CBD improves each health check.

“Financially, Blenheim CBD is performing soundly, despite all the uncertainties around the world.

“Although the CBD remained quite similar to the previous control, the overall quality is reasonably high, providing an adequate supply to the Blenheim community,” the report states.

A new Covid-19 support payment of $4,000 per business plus $400 per full-time worker will be made available to certain businesses affected by the Omicron outbreak, the government announced on Monday.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said to be eligible for the payment, companies must show a 40% drop in seven consecutive days in the six weeks before the government’s Omicron response moves into phase two on 15 February.

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