Welcome to the “new normal” of visiting wine country, and most of it is connected to what surely will become the phrase of the year: social distancing.
After being shut down for a long time, wineries have begun to reopen across the country. But when planning a visit, it’s important to keep these five things in mind:
- It won’t be the same “experience” as you’ve enjoyed in the past. Customers will be spread out. Depending on the size of the tasting room, you may find yourself sitting at a picnic table instead. There will be less interaction with fellow visitors.
- You may need to make a reservation. Simply heading out amidst the grapevines, spotting a winery sign that looks inviting, and turning down a winding road may not be possible for a while. So do that “wandering” online, and then call ahead to see what the policies are at the wineries you want to visit.
- You may not be able to get into your favorite restaurant. Capacity limitations are forcing owners to keep every other table vacant. Just like at wineries, it’s best to call ahead and try to make a reservation.
- Not everything is open yet. Your shopping expeditions — whether it’s for a favorite type of artisan cheese or a handmade piece of jewelry — may hit a roadblock or two. Do your best to go with the flow and not let it ruin your getaway.
- Those people who work at the tasting rooms may not be able to smile with their covered-in-cloth mouths right now, but they still have that twinkle in their eye because they appreciate having the opportunity to work with wine. Still, this is a time to be extra kind to them, and to let them know you appreciate their role in helping you have a “new normal” vacation.
We all hope this “new normal” is really just the “normal for now.” The good news is that wine country is opening back up, and with good planning, you can have a great time there.