'It's liberating': Wine tasting, outdoor dining returns to Sonoma County with COVID-19 safeguards

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- It was a small step back to normal this Memorial Day Weekend in Sonoma wine country.

Kendall-Jackson Winery outside Santa Rosa was taking lots of reservations for wine tasting reimagined. The longtime winery reopened Sunday with employees back at work with new guidelines and lots of disinfecting. Guests must have a reservation.

"We've spaced tables 10 feet apart, we have PPE, gloves and masks for staff," said Kendall-Jackson Manager Kris Miller.

For now, only wineries that serve food are allowed to resume tastings outdoors. That works for Ben Randall from San Ramon.

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"The weather is great, the wine is better, feels good to get out of the house," said Randall.

Sonoma County is easing restrictions on businesses, despite recording 15 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday.

Sisters Corrina and Elissa were getting together for the first time in months at the Russian River Brewing Company in Windsor. You can now grab food and beer to go here or enjoy it on the front patio.

"I can't tell you how happy I am to see people, customers and families back," said Russian River Brewing owner Natalie Cilurzo.

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"It's liberating, it's awesome," said Mike Curl from Windsor.

The outdoor patio is now open at "The Wurst" restaurant in Healdsburg.

Customers lined up to order, tables spaced apart. But for some, it was still too weird to be back.

"It's a little stressful, we want to be respectful of workers and other patrons, it's good to be out though," said customer Mary Geddling.

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Restaurant owner Charles Bell says this weekend has been busy but it's been a struggle.

"Normally, Memorial Day weekend would be packed, so we're grateful to have whatever we have now," said Bell.

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