In the wake of shelter-in-place orders, Alameda County wineries have taken creative measures to stay in business until the coronavirus pandemic subsides.
While tasting rooms are closed until further notice from the state, various vintners in the Livermore Valley Wine Country are offering curbside wine pickup, hand sanitizers and even paying forward a percentage of proceeds to help furloughed staff. All scheduled events through April have been canceled.
“It's a challenging time. We are doing curbside pick up; folks can call and place an order over the phone,” said Omega Road Winery owner and winemaker Alexandra Henkelman, whose company is offering bottles to-go and delivery. “One of the beautiful things about wine is that it builds and facilitates connection and community. In a time when we are isolated in our own spaces, that’s hard to do, so one of the things we’re looking at is how do we get together and organize some community in the midst of our separateness.”
Henkelman further noted her team is looking into hosting virtual tastings or possibly tutorials, such as tips for cooking with wine. The curbside pickup for Omega Road runs every day from noon to 2 p.m. at the winery located at 2127 S. Vasco Road. Delivery is complimentary for purchases of three bottles or more.
“Keep supporting each other, keep supporting small restaurants, small businesses as much as possible,” she said. “It’s so important during this time.”
Harrison Wood of Wood Family Vineyards said when health officials announced the shelter-in-place for the seven Bay Area counties — including Alameda — he wasn’t sure if his family’s business would remain open. The vineyard held a flash sale that day and unloaded over 175 cases in four hours with steep discounts.
“We've never moved product like that before, but the discounts we were offering were huge as well,” said Wood, who serves as the executive directive and also playfully calls himself the COO (child of owner).
Now, with the green light to continue strictly to-go sales, Wood Family joins the ranks of those running orders to waiting cars that pull up for a bottle of grab-and-go wine. Wood Family Vineyards is located at 2407 Research Drive.
“Wine gives people a sense of normalcy — it helps take the stress off,” said Wood. “We’re doing our absolute best to help people out in any way we can.”
Occasio Winery, located at 2245B S. Vasco Road, has been offering a complimentary bottle of house-made hand sanitizer with wine purchases.
“We can make alcohol, so what we do is we make a really high proof alcohol and we add the aloe vera to it and some fragrance,” said Occasio owner John Kineey. “It doesn’t smell or feel as good as Purell, but it will kill things.”
And to continue supporting its furloughed staff, Darcie Kent Vineyards is contributing 10% of all online purchases to support part-time associates. To shop online, visit https://bit.ly/2xZ4fq9.
“We are just trying to figure out how to help our staff,” said owner Darcie Kent.
Kent noted the winery has managed to maintain its full-time employees and part-time supervisors, but that a group of part-time staff from the tasting room was their main concern during this time. The online sales have helped.
“In the first week (of sales), we were able to duplicate what the sales associates would have made during that week. I’m very thrilled that this is working; we’ve had an outstanding response,” Kent continued. “I just want to say thank you to all of the people who have ordered online and done the wine program with us, so we can make the payroll with all of our staff. We’re continuing to offer discounts, so it’s also a good thing for our customers and our employees … You don’t have to shelter in place without wine.”
For more information on wineries offering to-go services, visit https://bit.ly/2wzsDON.