Napa wineries and wine bars have been allowed to reopen for visitors after several weeks of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, said that wineries, bars and hotels were among a range of businesses that could reopen across the state, if local county officials were happy for them to do so.
While strict safety guidelines will mean a new-look tasting experience, the move was quickly embraced by the wine sector, which has suffered from the loss of tasting room revenue and restaurant sales.
‘Our wineries are excited to reopen and welcome guests,’ said Bobby Koch, president of the California Wine Institute.
Stony Hill Vineyard, near to in St-Helena in Napa Valley, said on Twitter, ‘We’re thrilled to open our doors again beginning Tuesday, June 9. Book an appointment online or give us a call.
‘We’ll be offering the same warm hospitality as before, with some new health and safety precautions. We can’t wait to have you back.’
Nearby Corison Winery also said its tasting room was back open. ‘As a tiny, family-run winery, we host individual groups at tables around the winery and outside,’ it said on Twitter.
‘We have added a few important changes to our usual routines to comply with all new health regulations.’
Castello di Amorosa winery said it reopened on 6 June, but that advance appointments were required and guest groups were limited to six people.
Detailed health and safety guidelines issued by California’s health department include face masks for tasting room staff, prioritising outdoor seating, maintaining a six-foot distance between groups, disposable menus, health screenings on arrival and frequent disinfection of surfaces.
The Wine Institute said it had released new health and safety protocols for tasting rooms a month ago, to allow wineries to plan ahead.
It added, ‘Guests are advised to call wineries in advance to plan and make reservations for visits.’
A spokesperson for Napa Valley Vintners previously told Decanter.com that Napa County officials have allowed wineries to temporarily expand outdoor tasting space.
Some wineries in neighbouring Sonoma County had already reopened, following guidance that they could do so if serving sit-down meals outdoors.
As of 7 June, California had reported 131,319 cases of Covid-19, and 4,653 deaths.
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Source: Chris Mercer