Ready to venture out and enjoy wine tasting again? Please keep reading.

They’re Open

By the end of May, a few wineries had reopened their doors for tasters. Others needed more time to retool their tasting venues to accommodate social distancing. During the month of June, winery after winery reopened their doors with renewed enthusiasm. Although pandemic precautions are in place, I was happy to find wine tasting still offers what wine lovers are seeking—experiences that delight the senses.

Wine Country is just as beautiful as it was the last time I ventured out. Picturesque backroads led us to our destinations, with miles of vineyard-lined highways and byways providing a visual feast.

Two woman seated toast wine glasses as they look out on a lovely vineyard view.
Friends toast at Russian River Vineyards.

Reservations Required

 At each stop, winery owners and staff greeted us warmly, thrilled that we came to visit. But, the big difference is they knew we were coming. Wineries are requiring all visitors make reservations at each winery they plan to visit. Scheduling is key to ensure proper social distancing and maintain county health protocols.

Many of these wineries are small. With the new guidelines, they must limit how many people they can see at any one time, and any given day. Don’t miss out by not planning ahead. Lucky for you, the Wine Road website now has a tool to help you out.

Wine Road Winery Search with Reservation links.

Please keep in mind, not all the wineries along the Wine Road have reopened. Since reservations are required, you’ll know who’s open and who’s not before you begin your wine tasting adventure.

Wine Tasting At Its Finest

A picture is worth a thousand words. So, rather than tell you about my wine tasting experiences, here are photos from just a few wineries along the Wine Road.

Table at Balletto Vineyards set up for wine and food experience.
Balletto Vineyard‘s staff member sets up a reserved wine and food experience.
Composite of tasting photos from Bricoleur Vineyards, showing safe distancing and staff and visitors wearing masks.
Enjoy tasting in beautiful surroundings at Bricoleur Vineyards.
Photographer: Kailani Andrade
Composite of various wine tasting venues at Russian River Vineyards that allow social distancing.
Russian River Vineyards offers many tasting venues to allow everyone to have the perfect tasting experience.
Composite of tasting venues at Robert Young Estate Winery showing social distancing.
The views of Alexander Valley are superb from the patio at Robert Young Estate Winery’s Scion House.
Bricoleur Vineyards Executive Chef & Director of Culinary Operations Shane McAnelly delivers a food pairing to tasters. (left side) Balletto Vineyards offers pairings to tasters.
Bricoleur Vineyards Executive Chef & Director of Culinary Operations Shane McAnelly delivers a food pairing to tasters.
Balletto Vineyards also offers pairings to tasters.

What’s Different?

Wineries are offering seated tasting to ensure proper social distancing. Rather than be given a list of available wines and asked to select four or five you’d like to try, you’ll be given flight options. Flights give you a chance to tailor your wine tasting experience to your preferences.

Two woman tasting wine flights with a tablet between them.
Wine tasters at Pedroncelli Winery enjoying a flight of wines after ordering them online using a tablet.

We’ve all adjusted to our new bandit look, with face coverings of all colors and designs. Wineries require you to wear your face coverings when you arrive and depart, and whenever you step away from your table. You’ll find winery staff wearing face coverings as well. If you are unsure of the protocol, please ask.

Bricoleur Vineyard's founder & CEO Mark Hanson delivers wine glasses to tasters.
Bricoleur Vineyard’s founder & CEO Mark Hanson delivers wine glasses to tasters.
Photographer: Kailani Andrade

There is also plenty of opportunity to use hand sanitizer. If you don’t carry it with you, no worries, you’ll find it available at every tasting room you visit.

Welcome and hand sanitizer station at Pedroncelli Winery.
Welcome and hand sanitizer station at Pedroncelli Winery.

Read “We’re Safely Re-Opening” on the Wine Road’s website for complete details.

Less Paper, Less Contact

Pedroncelli Winery took this opportunity to go paperless and decrease their environmental footprint. No more paper wine lists, which the health code now mandates are one-use only. Rather, Pedroncelli’s wine flights are online. If you didn’t bring your smart phone along, the winery staff will provide you with one of the winery’s tablets. They offer eight flights including a “Create you own!” flight.

Pedroncelli Winery's wine flight options from their website.

Pedroncelli’s paperless system also lets you sign up for their wine club or view all the wines available for purchase. But if you’re not quite ready to leap into the paperless realm, just let them know.

Staying Over?

In the past week, lodgings are reopening. This means if you wish to travel to the Wine Road, but don’t want to make it a day trip, you have the option to stay overnight. Check out the Wine Road’s Lodging page for a list of member lodgings. Be sure to check your preferred lodging’s website for details.

Image of the Wine Road lodging search website page.

Happy to Be Back

Between the visual feast and the amazing wines, my senses were satiated after the long hiatus from traveling along the Wine Road. If you are ready to venture out, your next wine tasting adventure awaits you.

Happy Sipping!

@theWineRoad #alongtheWineRoad #winetastingagain #happysipping

Cover photo: View from Robert Young Estate Winery’s Scion House.

Posted by Rebecca Germolus

Rebecca Germolus, co-owner of Maximum Value Marketing, loves Sonoma County and playing along the Wine Road. Rebecca daily immerses herself in wine country by providing cost-effective marketing and writing solutions to wineries and restaurants.

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