California bars and restaurants can now offer outdoor seating

California’s bars and restaurants can reopen for table service as long as they can provide outdoor seating, according to new measures announced this week.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) in California has proposed regulations for bars and restaurants that will allow them to seat diners on the property that is “adjacent to the licensed premises”, such as pavements or car parks.

The ABC has previously ruled that on-trade outlets can offer take-out and home delivery to patrons so they could stay in business while the state’s lockdown measures are in place.

Pre-made cocktails and other alcoholic drinks are only to be sold as a take-out option if they are served with a meal.

California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a directive to close all bars, wineries, nightclubs and brewpubs in the state on March 15 and called for all seniors age 65 years or older to stay in self-isolation, in an effort to stop Covid-19 from spreading and putting a strain on local hospitals.

The temporary authorization only allows bars and restaurants to sell alcohol “during times in which bona fide meals are being served,” and allows them to use outdoor spaces that comply with public safety and welfare requirements.

Meanwhile, venues should still “encourage takeout and delivery service whenever possible,” according to California’s latest guidance for bars and restaurants issued last week.

The ABC updated its guidelines on May 19, and also ruled that licensees that do not have their kitchen facilities and do not prepare bona fide meals on the licensed premises to partner with businesses that do offer meals ( a “meal provider”) to “sell bona fide meals in conjunction with to-go containers of alcoholic beverages.”

The regulations have been amended to provide relief to the alcohol industry while it is unable to operate in full during lockdown.

Some US states are already coming out of their own lockdowns, with restaurants now able to take bookings.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance for bars preparing to reopen earlier this month as coronavirus lockdown restrictions eased.

WineAmerica discloses how wineries are being “creative” in the face of adversity

The average US winery lost US$51,201 from March 15 to April 15 and expects to lose a further $134,626 in May, due to the latest survey by industry association WineAmerica.

There is some cause for optimism.

Having released bleak figures back in March, the industry association has said the results of its second survey has brought in some more “uplifting” findings.

Last month, WineAmerica revealed that US wineries lost a total of US$40,439,764 in March due to Covid-19, but warned that the figure could be far greater as only 10% of the nation’s wineries responded to the information request.

In its second survey, the industry association found that the average winery lost $51,201 between March 15 and April 15 and expects to lose $134,626 in May if the current situation continues through to the end of the month. Wineries estimate that it will take an average of four months to return to normal business levels.

This survey was returned by 727 wineries in 45 states, a smaller survey sample than the first.

It revealed that wineries have resorted to ingenuity in order to bring in money. The most popular new strategy was offering curbside pickups, with 84% of those surveyed saying they had done this. 63% said they had reduced shipping costs, 60% had offered special promotions, 54% had carried out local home deliveries, and 53% said they’d put out ‘wine club specials’.

28% revealed they had engaged in the growing trend of virtual wine tastings. Just 5% of those surveyed said they hadn’t tried any of these initiatives.

WineAmerica stated that it was “highly likely” that the marketing experience and willingness to adapt will “serve the industry for years to come”.

15% of those surveyed said they had been forced to stop production, however, 62% said that production speed had been reduced due to Covid-19.

Due to the global pandemic, the average American winery had to lay off five members of staff, although a quarter of those surveyed said they didn’t make any job cuts.

As expected, wine tourism has taken a huge hit. The average winery in America has 17,644 annual visitors, with 1,482 expected during the 15 March to 15 April period. Due to coronavirus, visitor numbers were down by an average of 90.5% and tasting room sales fell by 74.5%. However, direct-to-consumer (DtC) sales increased by 8%, with many wineries reporting sales rising by double or triple digits.

WineAmerica president Jim Trezise said that wineries and tourism “have a symbiotic relationship” and described visitors as being “the lifeblood of the industry”.

He said that marketing innovations “have mitigated losses due to closed tasting rooms, but not entirely”.

As some states start to lift lockdown measures, Trezise says WineAmerica is working to develop “best practices for tasting rooms” that will both protect the safety of visitors and employees.

https://wineamerica.org/

Ashes & Diamonds Winery in Napa opens a drive-thru

A winery in California’s Napa Valley has opened a drive-thru service with complimentary caviar when you purchase a case of wine.

Last month, California’s wineries, breweries, bars, restaurants and taprooms were asked to close as governor Gavin Newsom imposed a lockdown across the state to slow the spread of coronavirus.

This naturally is a hammer blow to the value of the country’s wine sector. California makes around 81% of all US wine and is the world’s 4th leading wine producer, according to the California Wine Institute. The state’s wine sector employs roughly 325,000 people, while the 23.6 million tourists who visit California wine regions spend around US$7.2 billion last year.

Thankfully, the measures only apply to tours, tasting activities and events. Wineries are now adapting to the new rules by offering pick-up and delivery services, but some are going the extra mile to stand out.

Ashes & Diamonds winery, located in the Oak Knoll district of Napa Valley, is using booking platform Tock to open up a delivery and drive-thru service to supply locals with the high-end wines in its portfolio and is throwing in caviar as a gift.

Customers can opt for either delivery or drive-through, and reserve a specific time slot, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m to order a package that includes Ashes & Diamonds wines as well as snacks such as focaccia, locally made cheese and caviar.

The winery’s prices range from US$45 for a 2017 vintage white wine made with Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillion, to $125 for a 2016 vintage Cabernet Sauvignon.

Also, customers who order at least three bottles of wine will get an additional bundle of food, which includes Focaccia, Rancho Gordo bean dip, house-made pickles and locally produced cheese. Those who order at least six bottles will also get a portion of trout roe, and only those who splash out on a 12-bottle case will be given a complimentary 1oz serving of caviar.

On the other side of the pond, in Nottingham UK Castle Rock brewery has also opened a drive-thru service allowing customers to stock up on 5lr, 10lr or 20lr polypins, alongside cases of bottled beer and mini kegs of its session ale.

Craft beer giant Brewdog, meanwhile, has also turned a large portion of its UK bar network into drive thru stations. The brewer has set up a new app, called Hop Drop, which allows people to select their nearest Brewdog bar, choose the beers and food they want to take away, and adding 30% off all orders as an extra incentive.

Sources:  Drinks Business and California Wine Institute