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Wineries prepare to reopen during COVID-19 pandemic
KINGSTON -- Wineries are still waiting to find out just when they can open to the public for tours and tastings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, that doesn’t mean they are not making plans to be ready for when you can come by.
“By Chadsey’s Caines” in Prince Edward County has been owned by Richard Johnston and his wife Vida for over 20 years, and they say this has been a year like no other.
Still, they plan to open when allowed to.
“Pouring wine is the hardest part,” says Richard. “Because how do you keep that safe? Both for our servers and for our customers.”
The winery does not sell their product in the LCBO, and Johnston says 95 per cent of their business comes from tourism each year.
Johnston says they plan to allow residents in small groups to come by on their own for tastings.
Other Prince Edward County wineries CTV News Ottawa spoke to say they will allow tastings done by appointment only, a recommendation made by Wine Country Ontario.
Johnston says they plan to use the large, spread out property they have to their advantage.
“We’re thinking on great days like this we’ll a whole range of barrels out here,” he says. “And having one staff looking after three barrels, limit the number of people who can taste at each barrel.”
The tour companies that drive around tourist tasters are making plans too.
Prince Edward County Wine Tours General Manager Muriel Prentice says cleaning will be top priority
“The door handles, the seatbelts, all of the places in the vehicle that anything in any way shape or form people could touch it,” she explains. “Everything we can possibly do to disinfect the vehicle, we will do.”
Prentice also says the company is parking their big tour buses, in favour of the smaller limos that will seat a maximum of six.
As for who gets in?
“The plan is to concentrate on smaller groups, that know one another,” explains Prentice. “Not putting strangers together like we’ve done in the past.”
Tour groups will also have to sign a waver saying that those taking part can be in close quarters with one another, until the province says that it is ok to group up outside of your household.
She says there will be things to work around, and questions still that need to be answered.
“How do you drink wine with a mask on,” she laughs.