El Dorado Wine Region (October 26, 2020) – Although El Dorado County is at the California Covid color level orange, allowing for indoor tasting, many El Dorado AVA winery tasting rooms are too small to accommodate a sufficient number of socially distanced customers.
To make more room for the customers they need and to take advantage of their signature mountain views, wineries are reconfiguring outdoor spaces, using cellars for both winemaking and tastings, and building new structures.
Gwinllan Estate Winery, located in the Fair Play district of El Dorado AVA, is going all out and building an outdoor structure adjoining the tasting room in its aging caves. Perched on a bluff, the new structure will accommodate approximately 40 people at appropriate distance and will provide a grand panoramic view. A large barn door at one end will keep out prevailing winds and other weather as needed.
Edio Vineyards at Delfino Farms, one of the region’s newest wineries, finished construction of its winery building just prior to the Covid lockdown. Luckily, the design already included a covered deck that provides an overlook to the vineyards. Set high above the vineyards like a tree house, the deck opens to the indoor tasting room at one end, extending the capacity for tasting from outside to inside.
Val Barry, director of hospitality at Kehret Vineyards on Mount Aukum, laments that with social distancing, “We can only accommodate eight guests in our tasting room.” To make space for more, Kehret will heat its tank cellar for visitors. Weather permitting, Kehret also plans to open the tank room’s roll-up doors to expose its legendary view from its mountaintop perch.
Lava Cap Vineyards has been accommodating a good number of guests on its expansive multilevel deck throughout the summer. Since the deck is not covered, Lava Cap will configure the tank cellar to host guests in winter. Owner, Nolan Jones says that a roll-up door facing west will provide a view while propane heaters will keep guests comfortable. Jones adds, “It will be warm and dry for our guests and definitely offer an up-close and personal perspective.”
Heating tank rooms at this time of year does not damage wine as most of the new wines have been moved into barrel storage cellars for aging.
El Dorado wine region, a Sierra Foothill AVA, is located one hour east of Sacramento and one hour west of Lake Tahoe.
Unique for its mountain vineyards from 1100 to over 3,000 ft. elevation, the AVA successfully farms over 70 wine grape varietals.
Visitors to El Dorado county can taste unique varietals at over 60 wineries as well as take in the region’s wealth of local farm fresh products and outdoor recreation.