While still coming back from last year’s wildfires, Limerick Lane Winery in Healdsburg, California found itself on a tight budget when planning how it would safely reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aside from installing a large, covered structure and purchasing a fire pit and chairs, it made do with what it had at its disposal, said Operations Manager David Messerli.
Fortunately for Limerick Lane, it had plenty to work with, thanks to the placement of its estate vineyards and the retention of a knowledgeable staff.
Moving its tasting bars outdoors opened the door to a new experience for customers.
“As this tasting area is adjacent to our estate vineyards, when weather allows, we treat guests to a vineyard tour/tasting experience,” Messerli said. “The customers really enjoy the vineyard views, viticulture and enology information from the staff and the fresh air.
“The estate vineyards were an easy choice as it makes the wine stories relatable and applicable.I think that it’s always important to play to the strengths of your business. We had recently secret shopped our own winery, so we had a good idea of what connected with our customers as well as what clearly did not.”
The winery spaces out appointments to allow time for proper cleaning and sanitization between guests. Customers can take a complimentary mask and sanitize their hands before beginning the tasting.
As they enter the winery, guests are met at an outdoor greeting station where hosts meet the clients and explain the process and expectations.
“Customer traffic and appointments are lessened by the extra amount of time for set up and clean up, but this is necessary to keep our staff and customers safe,” Messerli said.