California wine lovers have good reason to raise their glasses; on June 12, wineries were given the green light by the state to reopen their tasting rooms to visitors in approved counties. Tasting room experiences will look a bit different this summer, but California wine country’s natural beauty and world-class wines are as spectacular as ever.
Protecting the health and safety of their visitors and employees is a top priority for California vintners. Wineries have implemented stringent cleaning and sanitation protocols as well as employee wellness screenings and the use of face coverings among other practices.
Visitors can expect to see several changes during their next California wine country excursion:
Visitor flow will be monitored. Vintners are limiting the number of guests who are allowed to visit at any one time. This helps wineries maintain physical distancing and creates a more intimate atmosphere for guests. They are also limiting group sizes.
Tables are spaced to meet the six-foot physical distancing requirements and give visitors plenty of room to relax and enjoy the experience.
Tastings are moving outdoors. California wine country is known for its gorgeous vineyards and beautiful winery estates, so it’s a great time to get outside and enjoy the views. Many wineries have moved tables outside to ensure proper spacing between tables or are offering outdoor-only tastings. Some are also featuring fresh-air activities such as private vineyard hikes and curated picnics. Check winery websites or call ahead for the latest offerings.
Tours have gone private. Wineries are limiting tour groups to members of the same household, so different parties will not be mixed together. This results in a more personalized experience for participants.
Masks are in fashion. Guests are asked to wear face coverings while checking in or when coming within six feet of winery staff and other guests. Masks are generally not required while seated or tasting.
Reservations are highly encouraged. To help control the flow of visitors, wineries are asking guests to book tasting appointments. Calling ahead also gives visitors the opportunity to find out about any special tastings or experiences the winery is offering. Guests should also check with wineries in advance for county-specific requirements. As always, please stay home and reschedule your visit if you or anyone in your party is unwell.
If you can’t make it to a California winery this summer, many wineries are also continuing to offer virtual tastings and experiences which can be found at discovercaliforniawines.com. You can also recreate the experience at home with Wine Country Table: With Recipes that Celebrate California’s Sustainable Harvest.
Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of more than 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and a partnership with Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings and the state as a top travel destination.