Here in Virginia, we’re officially in Phase One (Or heading into it, if you’re in a select few Northern Virginia counties). We’re straddling the line between normalcy and caution, which can be difficult when sober, yet alone with wine. Having visited a few now, I’ve seen how important it is to be prepared when experiencing our new normal. Whether you’re in my state or anywhere across America, read up below to see what to expect as your local wineries reopen.
1. Bring a Mask
Even before masks were officially announced to be required indoors in Virginia, every winery I’ve seen has required one. Some require to wear them anywhere outside of your picnic area, while others only require it if your entering indoors for restroom usage. Which, speaking of…
2. Be Prepared to be Outside
Unless it’s for restroom usage, you cannot be inside Virginia wineries right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining—still can’t do it. Prepare accordingly. Personally, I’ve been packing sunshades and picnic blankets in case tables at walk-in establishments aren’t available.
3. Make Reservations
Not all wineries are taking reservations, but many of the smaller operations just don’t have the space to accommodate walk-ins. A good general practice is to check in advance if reservations are required. Some operations are also requiring reservation deposits, but don’t worry—this is typically applied towards your final bill! Be sure to also look into minimum purchase requirements.
4. Bottle Sales for Life!
I’ve seen a few wineries doing tasting flights, but they’re definitely in the minority. Be prepared for bottle sales and don’t worry—you can always take whatever you don’t drink home with you! If you don’t know what to order without a tasting, just ask the staff at the winery. They’ll be able to guide you in the right direction.
5. Hop to It
I’m the type of person who typically does a tasting, explores a bit, and moves on. I typically do about four wineries in a day, since I have a short attention span and don’t linger. The new style wineries are operating under has forced me to slow down a bit and enjoy sitting back in a vineyard. Honestly, it’s been refreshing! If you’re like me, plan on cutting back the total number of wineries you’ll visit in a day.
There you have it. Good luck and drink up!