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Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries prepare to open tasting bars

Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries are preparing to welcome guests back to their tasting rooms with new protocols and best practices in place to keep consumers safe.

While wineries have been deemed an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have remained open for shopping and/or curbside pick-up, all Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake association member wineries closed their tasting bars to ensure the safety of the community, guests and their front-line team members.

With restrictions beginning to loosen on a provincial level, all members of the organization held a conference call in May to discuss how wineries might best prepare for the new normal. Discussion took place regarding the development of a best practices guide for re-opening tasting rooms. As Ontario and other wine destinations like British Columbia, Oregon and California have recently released their protocols, the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake organization has been able to refer to these documents as a benchmark for excellence in safety protocols for developing its own Best Practices Guide.

This document has been shared with all member wineries to assist them in their plans for reopening their tasting rooms when the time is right for them.

Niagara wineries
The tasting room at Reif as they prepare to welcome visitors back.

“Our member wineries are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of the community, team members and guests, locals and visitors alike,” says association chair Andre Kaiser. “While opening dates and specific tactics at each winery will differ, the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake guidelines will help member wineries to develop best practices appropriate for their tasting rooms.”

The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake marketing umbrella currently includes 24 winery members who are not only committed to service excellence but also being socially responsible members of the community. The town is home to many owners and team members and they are proud to be a part of the fabric of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s cultural landscape, the association said in a news release. They have been buoyed by the desire in the community to support local.

“While the last two months have been trying for all of our member wineries as they have been faced with reduced revenues and the inability to keep all of their team members employed, the support across the country to buy local has been inspiring to all of us,” says Kaiser. “Most of our members were able to pivot from a focus on in-store wine sales to on-line sales, as well as curbside pick-up, to soften the blow.”

— Information provided by Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake