While Washington wineries are still open for business, services have been restricted to wine orders, deliveries, and pick-ups. Tasting rooms are closed, and Spring Release parties cancelled. A subdued lull takes the place of the buzz and excitement normally found this time of the year.
|Festivities at Spring Valley Vineyard Ranch during 2019 Spring Release|
This indefinite pause in wine tourism and large-scale wine events has a significant financial impact on wineries. In response, many wineries have turned up the dial on online sales, offering inexpensive or even free shipping. For consumers who live in close proximity, some wineries have ramped up on curbside pickups and even offered free wine deliveries.
Some wineries, with the appropriate license, also include meals with wine purchase. Caprio Cellars in Walla Walla offers a $50 winery takeout, which includes a scrumptious three-course dinner for two with its wine.
|Sample menu from Caprio Cellars|
As for food establishments that serve wine, the shutdown also changes how business is run. As dining rooms across Washington are closed, the state liquor board has made temporary allowance to licensed eateries to sell wine with meals for curbside pick-ups or deliveries. This is a great way for consumers to stay safe and still support local restaurants and wineries.
Despite this being an uncertain time, it is heartening to know that there are wineries that are able and willing to pitch in to help the community out. Here are some creative ways that wineries are showing support to others during the pandemic:
- Alexandria Nicole Cellars and Genoa Cellars offered healthcare workers 50% off wine purchase in March to thank them for their sacrifice.
- Betz Family Winery donated $5 per bottle of The Untold Story, a red blend, sold through mid April to the Seattle Foundation's COVID-19 Response Fund. The fund provides emergency assistance to the region's most vulnerable communities, such as financial support, healthcare, and childcare.
- DeLille Cellars is donating 50% of the sale of D2 Heart, its wildly popular Bordeaux blend, to Seattle Foundation's COVID-19 Response Fund and Lifewire, a non-profit that strives to end domestic violence.
- Doubleback Winery, owned by former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe, sponsored free meals from Andrae's Kitchen to out-of-work employees in Walla Walla's hospitality industry during the first two weeks of April.
- Quilceda Creek, a premium Washington winery, recently joined the bandwagon by releasing bottles from its private library to its members with the plan to donate 50% of all proceeds from the sales to Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. RERF was created to help restaurant industry employees who are experiencing extraordinary hardship due to the pandemic.
My Verdict: While COVID is a global pandemic that penetrates countless countries and across different societal strata, the human spirit to reinvent, to adapt, and to give back and support our community is what that will get us through this crisis. I am proud of Washington wineries for doing just that. So stay home, stay healthy, and drink good wine (not disinfectant). This too shall come to pass.