Napa wineries can reopen to the public

Wineries in Napa County can finally reopen to the public, several weeks after restaurants in the region were permitted to resume trading.

Napa County officials released new guidelines last Friday that will allow wineries, bars and tasting rooms in Napa County to reopen.

Recommended to start from 12 June, the guidelines instruct businesses to provide temperature and/or symptom screenings for all workers and necessary protective equipment. Wineries are encouraged to adopt strict cleaning protocols and improve ventilation.

The guidelines also state that wineries should encourage reservations, rather than drop-in tastings, and prioritise outdoor dining and curbside pickup. Tables must be spaced six-feet apart. The full guidelines can be read here. 

It follows several weeks of confusion regarding the regulations for wineries and tasting rooms in Napa County, culminating in Chuck Wagner, owner of Caymus Vineyards, suing California’s governor and public health officer, Gavin Newsom, over the state’s unfair winery reopening plan.

In late May, Newsom, co-owner of the PlumpJack Group, which boasts four Napa Valley wineries, said that wineries in California could re-open, providing they offer full, sit-down meals.

However, most wineries in Napa county are banned from offering such a service, meaning they could not reopen. This is in contrast to restaurants in the county, which were permitted to resume trading from 19 May.

However wineries in other counties, for example Sonoma, have started to reopen. Sonoma was the first county in which wineries were permitted to resume trading, initially offering outdoor visits and meals, but from 6 June, visitors were permitted to be indoors.

Further afield, wineries in Oregon and Texas began reopening in mid-May, while businesses in other states, for example Virginia, have been limited to offering outdoor seating. Wineries in the Walla Walla AVA, which straddles both Oregon and Washington states, have started reopening their tasting rooms, but they must remain at 50% capacity.

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