Villa Fiore tasting room

Sonoma County wineries re-open by appointment only

While shelter-in-place orders were modified in Alameda County, but did not address the shut 50-plus Livermore Valley wineries, Sonoma County’s health officer has allowed tasting at wineries to resume as of June 4.

Napa Valley wineries received the same go-ahead on June 6.

It will be a different than standing at a crowded tasting bar, chatting with others. Tasting will essentially be private. Reservations are required and parties are limited to four or six people depending upon the venue. Initially, a food element in Sonoma County was required in Sonoma, but that restriction was lifted as of June 12.

The lawn and ancient olive trees at Bella

In the Dry Creek Valley, Bella Vineyard opened to take advantage of its nice lawn. That lawn complements the caves that typically are the site for tasting. The caves will be closed. Guests will be given a picnic basket including the wine they pre-ordered as well as glasses, a corkscrew and food.

Bella partnered with Backyard Restaurant to offer a “Farm to Basket” experience. That can be a picnic on the lawn or a hike to a picnic spot overlooking the Dry Creek Valley. Saturday’s basket included: local selection of cheeses, cured meats, olives, honeycomb, freshly baked baguettes, seasonal spread and local organic salad to enjoy with wine pairings on the lawn. On Sunday, the picnic included is Backyard’s infamous fried chicken with a beautiful salad of grilled local, organic peaches, arugula, preserved lemon, basil olives and sea salt.

The picnic is $45 per person.

Across the valley at the end of Dry Creek Road, Ferrari-Carrano has reopened with tasting on the Villa Fiore outdoor Sycamore Terrace. Visitors will select five wines to taste while eating a cheese and charcuterie board. Reservations are required for the $45 experience at the showcase Italian mansion.

In the Napa Valley, Growth’s website lists its new policy for visitors: appointments only with limited slots to allow for time to sanitize between groups; all visitors must be 21; weather permitting, tastings will be outdoors; all visitors must wear masks as will the staff; all printed materials will be single-use; servers will only care for one table; payment is by credit card only.

Expect Napa Valley wineries to open within the week.

By Tim Hunt