After a two-month hiatus due to Stay At Home orders, wineries prepare to reopen May 15
Portland, OR … May 14, 2020 – After having closed tasting rooms for almost two months to on-premise wine tastings and consumption, on May 7th, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the plans for the Phase One reopening of Oregon wineries and tasting rooms. Oregon winery tasting rooms are greenlighted to start opening May 15, 2020 with 28 counties leading the way listed here. Located inside these many of these counties are a number of winery tasting rooms.
Oregon is putting into action a carefully phased plan to ensure the health and safety of winemakers, staff at tasting rooms, production workers and lovers of Oregon wine who want intimate but safe experiences with Oregon wineries.
Oregon winery tasting rooms have been closed for on-premise tasting and consumption since March 23 with the governor’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” Executive Order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Like restaurants, winery tasting rooms must observe social distancing guidelines. These are:
- Determine maximum occupancy to maintain physical distancing requirements and limit number of customers on premises accordingly.
- Ensure tables are spaced at least six (6) feet apart so that at least six (6) feet between parties is maintained, including when customers approach or leave tables.
- Businesses will need to determine seating configuration to comply with these physical distancing requirements.
- Remove or restrict seating to facilitate the requirement of at least six (6) feet of physical distance between people not in the same party.
- If booth seating is back-to-back, only use every other booth.
- Limit parties to 10 people or fewer. Do not combine parties/guests at shared seating situations who have not chosen to congregate together. People in the same party seated at the same table do not have to be six (6) feet apart.
Wineries and restaurants, must also end all on-site consumption of food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages by 10 p.m. and the use of masks by consumers are encouraged. More guidelines can be found here.
The openings coincide with Oregon [Inside] Wine Month, and Oregon wine lovers will appreciate Oregon Vine Perks, a new statewide loyalty program launched by the Oregon Wine Board. With the Oregon Vine Perks program, anyone who spends $250 or more on Oregon wine between May 1 and July 1, 2020, can upload their receipts as proof of purchase and receive an Oregon Vine Perks Pass in the mail. The pass will unlock two-for-one tastings, discounts, and VIP benefits at participating wineries across the state once tasting rooms reopen. The passes are good through April 30, 2021. The OWB will make a donation in the name of Oregon Vine Perks to the Oregon Food Bank.
Oregon wines enjoyed brisk sales according to Nielsen data for the weeks of March 14, 21 and 28, which showed that Oregon wine was up 52% in retail sales, outperforming the total table wine category, which was up 41%. However, wineries are ready to get back to business and welcome customers.
With health and safety at the forefront, a slower, thoughtful pace is paramount in reopening wineries, with many following the carefully phased plan the governor has laid out provides a realistic plan in placing health and safety at the forefront. Consumers should call each winery for further information and details before visiting. Many tasting rooms will be accepting reservations to ensure safe seating.
This commitment to safety is seen in the newly created Tasting Room Guidelines, developed by a task force of wineries from across the state. These go above and beyond the governor’s reopening requirements to add recommended staff trainings and visitor safety protections specifically designed with the welfare of wine country guests in mind.
About Oregon Wine Board
The Oregon Wine Board is a semi-independent Oregon state agency managing marketing, research and education initiatives that support and advance the Oregon wine and wine grape industry. The Board works on behalf of all Oregon wineries and independent growers throughout the state’s diverse winegrowing regions. Visit oregonwine.org.