Coronavirus Impact: Santa Clara County wine region concerned about economic impact if bars, wineries stay closed

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Santa Clara Co. wine region concerned about impact if bars, wineries stay closed
South Bay wineries have already seen their customers leave the county and go north where wineries are open. After Governor Gavin Newsom advised that Santa Clara County bars and wineries stay closed, they fear their business may take even longer to return.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- The State of California is recommending some adjustments to the phases of reopening that could cause further impact to the wine region in the South Bay and business owners want their local leaders to help them out.

Currently, bars and wineries are considered under the same phase of reopening and it may cause local wineries to stay closed for longer than they believe is right.

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The South Bay has some of the oldest and best wineries in the state, including Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill.

"My grandparents founded it and bought the original ranch house in 1925," Guglielmo Winery General Manager Gene Guglielmo said. "Everything comes from the grapes, so we have the environment to grow world-class grapes and turn them into wine."

But for the first time in 95 years, their grounds have been empty due to the shelter-in-place orders, something the Guglielmo family has never seen.

They fear changes may change the landscape of their industry.

"We're a relational business, so it's going to be really difficult to see how we're going to be able to keep that relationship going as far as tasting and reopening while staying safe," Guglielmo Winery Tasting Room manager Gena Guglielmo said.

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A way they will be safe is through the state and county guidelines that wineries must follow.

These include changing wine glasses after each taste, social distancing tasting tables, moving tasting rooms outside and more.

"We just want to provide and create a place where it still feels like it did before all of this had happened," Guglielmo Winery customer relations and offsite sales manager Angelia Guglielmo said. "We want to provide a safe environment for people, who might still be a little weary about being going out in public and being around people, and want to go out, want to support the community and support those local businesses."

Guglielmo Winery has already started to put in the work to make their outdoor tasting room COVID-19 friendly.

But after recent recommendations from Governor Gavin Newsom, reopening may not be as soon as they once thought.

State officials asked eight counties Sunday to issue health orders that would keep Santa Clara County bars and wineries closed due to rising coronavirus cases.

Wineries of Santa Clara Valley Association President Geoff Mace says this could lead to further economic impact to the South Bay wine region.

"As other counties are opening up, people are leaving and taking their dollars elsewhere and to the neighboring counties," Mace said. "I think it's important to make the distinction between an indoor bar where you have a lot of folks gathering, listening to music, talking loudly, compared to a very quiet and relaxed wine tasting. It's just not the same. So, we're hoping our county officials will hear that and recognize that."

Mace says all wineries in the association plan on following county guidelines to ensure the safest return to tasting when that time comes.

Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody previewed her plans earlier this week for the next phase of reopening that will come in the beginning of July.

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