Planning a Post-Pandemic Trip to Napa Valley by Jennifer O’Neill
During mid-May, Napa Valley restaurants were finally given the green light to start offering indoor dining. Then, during the last week of the month, a number of the region’s wineries also started to plan their reopening. This happened right of the start of the peak season, which generally attracts an average of 3.8 million visitors who spend nearly $2.23 billion in the region. According to Stephanie Honig, the director of sales at Honig Vineyard & Winery, the shelter-in-place restrictions that were imposed in mid-March crippled the industry. Further uncertainty prevailed when overall wine sales decreased by as much as 50% due to the severely-affected restaurant industry. Now, as some wineries have reopened, a glimmer of hope has been restored to some of the Valley’s most iconic destinations.
Be prepared for a new normal
Although wine lovers can once again descend on Napa Valley, they must not expect things to be exactly how they were prior to the pandemic. Ahead of their reopening Emma Swain, CEO of St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winery, shared that it was extremely difficult to predict exactly how many tourists will be brave enough to venture out before a Covid-19 vaccine is available. She added that those who do visit the winery may be unsettled by just how much the face of wine tasting had to evolve to become compliant with very strict health regulations. Almost all the wine tastings at St. Supery Estate will take place outside and visitors will be placed further apart than usual. The entire staff complement will be wearing masks and guests will be expected to do the same when they are not busy tasting.
Personal hygiene cannot be neglected
Wineries will undoubtedly have strict safety regulations in place which will, more than likely, require guests to wear masks. Even where visitors are not constantly reminded to wear a mask or wash their hands it is important that each individual take it upon themselves to be very cautious about their personal hygiene. One way to keep illnesses at bay is to carry sanitizing wipes with you whenever you leave the house. Although all fixtures will be sanitized on a regular basis, there is no harm in wiping down door handles, arm rests, and seats prior to using them while out and about in Napa Valley.
New opportunities exist
With the Valley systematically reopening, a range of new opportunities exist for the Californian wine industry. Rob McMillan of the Silicon Valley Bank expressed how the industry typically struggles to gain traction among millennials who are typically more of a craft beer drinking, coffee loving crowd. A unique opportunity exists during early opening, thanks to the fact that music festivals and large sporting events have not yet been rescheduled. As the younger crowd becomes desperate to venture outside, a forward-thinking winery with an appealing taste menu may very well win them over. There are always new avenues worth exploring and some might even turn out to be very profitable.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the Californian wine industry in numerous ways. No that the industry is finally reopening, a sense of normalcy can finally return to one of the most renowned wine regions in the world.
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