The sun is shining. The birds are chirping. And wineries across the state are working hard to — safely! — reopen. What that looks like will vary from county to county and winery to winery, and will continue to evolve, but wineries couldn’t be more excited for the transition.
“I am so glad to welcome back customers,” says Kari Skrip of Clover Hill Vineyards & Winery in the Lehigh Valley. “We are fortunate so many people supported us via curbside pickup, shipped wines, and our distribution channels over the past several months, but we look forward to seeing customers again, enjoying our beautiful location and wines.”
As you venture back to the vineyards (and patios and porches and lawns) of PA Wine Land, here are a few helpful hints to make your return as sweet and smooth as a glass of perfectly chilled Catawba:
1. Call ahead
Really. With a phone! By the time you finish reading this article, county restrictions and winery operations could have changed. Wineries aren’t always able to update their website or social media channels with the most up-to-date info. Your best bet is to pick up the phone and talk to someone on site before heading out.
2. Prepare for a different experience
You might need to reserve a table. You might need to BYOC (bring your own chair). You might be required to purchase food in order to consume their wine or other adult beverages on-site. Tastings and flights may not be available — or they might take a creative new form. Wineries are responding to new health mandates that could change their policies on wines by the glass, table service, food service, and, well, everything else to ensure their customers’ safety. While the details might be different, your favorite wines, views, and smiling faces … er … eyes … will be as familiar as ever.
3. Be patient
These are strange and unprecedented times for everyone, wineries included. They have been hard at work putting new sanitization procedures, payment methods — and tables! — in place to comply with the most up-to-date safety standards. With all of this change, things might not be as smooth as you’re used to. Just know that everyone is doing their best to make your long-awaited out-of-home experience as enjoyable as possible.
4. Have and wear your mask.
Masks are required when in public in Pennsylvania.
5. Wear sunscreen
While some wineries are starting to offer limited indoor seating, many are moving as much of their operations to the great outdoors as possible, so lather up that SPF. Wineries that don’t typically have outdoor seating might welcome safely spaced folding chairs, picnic blankets, or tailgating, so don’t count out your favorite winery just because it doesn’t have a patio.
6. Keep it exclusive
If you’ve always wanted an opportunity to say “You can’t sit with us,” this is your moment. Wineries may restrict party sizes based on safety standards. So think carefully about who you want to spend your precious outdoor time with!
7. Call ahead
Yes, it’s that important. We can give you some tips on PA Wine Land as a whole, but no one is more knowledgeable about the winery you’re planning to visit than the winery itself. What we know for sure is that they will be thrilled to hear from you!