How This Winery Keeps Events Going During Delta

As harvest wraps up in New Jersey, Unionville Vineyards General Manager and sommelier John Cifelli said the winery was looking to engage with customers by showcasing tastings from yesteryear.

“This weekend, we are going to glimpse backwards in time with two days of library tastings, showcasing some beautiful age-worthy wines of vintages past,” Cifelli said.

The winery has hosted similar events as languishing concerns about COVID-19 and the Delta Variant endure.

“All restrictions were dropped in May in New Jersey,” Cifelli said in an interview with Vintner in August. “Now there are only strong recommendations and I expect that will remain the scenario that we operate in through the election at least.

“We now offer tastings by reservation only. My team is comfortable filling the room up again, but the appointment-only model allows us to offer a better experience to guests, and allows for better management
of labor, which is important due to inflation in the labor market and shortage of people looking for work.”

The tasting will include eight wines from the library that will be shared during special tastings on the patio over the weekend (October 2-3), including back vintage Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and the Big O, their Bordeaux-style blend.

The event also showcases a local restaurant, the Blawenburg Bistro, paired with a glass of wine of the customer’s choosing. Eight guests will taste at a time.

Cifelli said he had no concerns about the Delta variant.

“My staff still have the option of masking if it makes them comfortable, and guests obviously aren’t visiting the tasting room if they’re uncomfortable,” Cifelli said. “So each day is a 100% ‘opted-in’ community that are comfortable socializing.”

Cifelli said this year’s growing season had not been effortless, but he was still pleased with how it turned out.

“There’s been challenges — a double digit rainfall from Ida did no favors — but Unionville has persevered with another season of quality and yield,” he said.

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