Wineries Upset With State's Guidelines For Reopening

Winery owners have taken task with Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration for what they believe are harsh restrictions required for tasting rooms and other facilities to reopen.

It’s been a rough few years for the wine industry.

"We’ve been through floods, we’re been through fires, we now have a pandemic," Taft Street Winery General Manager and Founder Mike Martini said. "There’s nothing we can’t handle."

That includes keeping people safe from coronavirus exposure in their tasting rooms.

The state handed down criteria Tuesday that wineries will need to meet to be able to reopen, whenever that occurs. Martini claims the state is limiting tasting room access only to residents who live in the same county as the facility they’re visiting.

Also, only members of a single family can visit, meaning no outsiders.

"You can’t go with a friend to a tasting room," Martini said. "Well, that doesn’t make any sense."

Martini and colleagues have enlisted the aid of state legislators.

"They have gone to the governor and said 'Hey, here’s protocols, here are how we can make it safe,'" Martini said. "The governor’s response is 'Nope. I’m the boss.'"

Napa Valley Vintners Industry Relations VP Rex Stults told The Sacramento Bee the "logic makes no sense."

Representatives for Gov. Newsom were not immediately available for comment.

Napa County became the first in the Bay Area to be approved by the state to expand its move further into Stage 2 of reopening Tuesday, just a day after Gov. Newsom’s visit to the area. A press release said childcare, office businesses (when telework is not possible), residential cleaning and maintenance services, outdoor museums, retail stores, shopping malls and dine-in restaurants were allowed to reopen immediately.