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Hurdles C-19 Poses For California Wine Tasting

Here we go again. 75,000 new Covid 19 infections one California day. It’s worse than the last peak but thankfully less virulent. None the less, it’s impacting everything from seeing grandma, obtaining groceries, replacing the jalopy and of course wine tasting in our favorite place: California.

What’s the impact in wine country? Here goes:

1-The visitor count is down.

2-Employee count is down, be patient.

3-Have a reservation because you can’t walk into a winery expecting a seat at the bar or picnic area.

4-Wear warm layers as most tasting options are outdoors. Indoor tastings are very small in size.

5-Be prepared to pay at least $20 ( or $40 or $80) per tasting (or purchase $100 of wine to waive ONE tasting.)

6-Bring your mask to get in the door.

Some wineries will pour your first sip directly into a glass but after that it all goes into a beaker. Now you pour the vino into your glass. Communal bottles don’t go near a glass from which you’ve sipped. How quaint was that ritual, now gone.

It’s all pretty crazy. Some days the world seems broken.

And inflation has yet to set into next year’s bottling. Containers of bottles from China usually costing $2,500 for shipping now command $26,000 per container. Cork, bottle caps and employees are all costing more, if you can get them. One winemaker told us they cannot source Savignon Blanc style bottles and will bottle them in dark Pinot Noir bottles. Hey, it’s still wine and it’s not like we’re drinking out of tin cups.

Almost two years into this pandemic and one must wonder, will it end soon? Will we stop losing our friends and family and be able to live a life with some intimacy with others?

Let’s raise a glass to those departed, recuperating and a future with less C-19.

Bill Hodge & Erin O’Neill-Hodge enjoy a good bottle of wine, visiting and enjoying California wineries from Lake County to Orange County, from the Paso Robles Gold Coast to Gold Country and from Lodi to Bakersfield.