The new coronavirus-related restrictions set down Thursday by Gov. Tom Wolf shouldn’t make much of a difference to a Pennsylvania wine industry that already has largely been operating outdoors and selling online and curbside since March.
“We have discussed and anticipated this as a possibility, so we are prepared to continue to use curbside options and sales for off-premise consumption,” Mario Mazza, general manager and enologist for Mazza Vineyards, one of the state’s biggest operations, said in an email Thursday night. The Mazza family has been making craft beverages at their Lake Erie location for more than 45 years and has grown to include five locations in western Pennsylvania and southwestern New York and dozens of products, including spirits and craft beers.
Mazza noted the other aspect of this time of the year, where the tasting rooms tend to slow and more customers are stopping by just to purchase wine and other merchandise for the holidays.
“Most of our traffic at this time of year and through the winter is for off-premise consumption typically,” he said, “so we anticipate it being a smaller impact than if this occurred during the summer or fall. Ensuring the safety and well being of our guests, staff and families is still of primary importance.”
Here is a link to a note on the website on how they’re currently handling customers.
Stony Run Winery owner Larry Schrawder, who runs tasting rooms in Kempton, Berks County (temporarily closed), and Breinigsville, Lehigh Valley, noted that “we can fill orders under retail limitations of 50% indoor capacity. (40 people). No indoor dining. Outdoor dining still permitted. Maximum of 10 indoor for an ‘event.’ Maximum 50 outdoor for ‘event.’ “
So for days like this weekend, with the forecast for temperatures in the mid to upper 50s across the region, there are still opportunities to welcome customers to share a bottle of wine.
His Breinigsville location remains open Thursdays through Sundays.
Linda Carroll Weaver, the owner and general manager at Mt. Nittany Vineyard & Winery in Centre Hall, Centre County, said in reaction to the restrictions that “this is how we have been operating [outdoors the only real option] since our inception in 1990, so we’re back to that. We have a fabulous outdoor space, which will appeal to hearty outdoorsy types,” she said. “Weather will be a big factor, and if you can be outdoors, we are a great option. We have a fire pit coming next week and plan to do a bonfire event in the new year.”
It also has recently finished a second-story tasting room that will give the 30-year-old producer a comfortable new space to welcome customers, especially when the restrictions eventually ease.
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On the distribution side, a variety of wineries have been bringing their product to customers’ doorsteps since late spring or early summer. Among those are Allegro Winery in York County, which delivers on Saturdays, and Nissley Vineyards in Lancaster County, which is transporting its wine to residents in the West Shore and East Shore around Harrisburg to Hershey and York to many locations around Lancaster every Wednesday. Here’s a link to the zip codes that can receive Nissley’s products.
Spring Gate Vineyard and Winery has gone a step further. On Friday it introduced a partnership with a new Pennsylvania startup, Distrbutron, that will provide immediate availability of select winery and brewery products for one hour or less delivery within 20 miles of the estate. The service is accessible via an app or Springgateone.com.
Owner Marty Schoffstall, whose winery/brewery might include the biggest events list of any in the state, noted that these latest moves by the governor won’t affect his operation, which has moved “outdoors since March. I believe that will be true for a big chunk of 2021,” he added.
Around the region, here’s a link to the current rules at Maryland wineries and to guidelines for those visiting Pennsylvania wineries.
Meanwhile, New Jersey wineries are in the midst of their holiday wine celebration through New Year’s Eve. One of those, Unionville Vineyards in Hunterdon County, is holding its Port Release Weekend. Tasting appointments and fireplace reservations available. Even without a tasting appointment, anyone can swing by for a sip of port and a bite of chocolate.
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