SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It's a way to hang on. Wine sales can continue from retail locations but tastings are out under the current California limited Stay-at-Home order.
This could be a lifesaver for some businesses that have been successful at filling their tasting rooms and selling both bottles and cases of wines at the end of a customer's visit.
It also works for the craft beer business.
"We are open obviously we are not doing wine tastings, but the retail shop is open," said Santa Barbara Winery Tasting Room Manager Suzanne FitzGerald.
Often in areas like the Santa Barbara Funk Zone the weekend crowds were very large before the pandemic. That has fallen off significantly, but the front doors to many businesses are open and sales continue.
During the first economic setback in spring, the sales of wine by the bottles or cases continued and, at times, were strong.
Industry experts say wine, beer and spirits have been selling well throughout the year, despite the crisis. That is expected to continue through the holidays.
"Just because we are going through this stay at home order for the next three weeks all retail places are open and they are happy to sell," said FitzGerald.
There's no disputing the interruption in business at restaurants, bars and tasting rooms will be line items to contend with.
To make up for it, winery owners and those who have tasting room operations are reaching out to their customers to encourage them to come in, order for delivery and join the wine club for shipments throughout the year.
For those coming by in person, without big crowds, parking is much easier.
"It's a lot quieter in this neighborhood for sure, but there's still activity and still people around," said FitzGerald.
There's more than just wine available. The tasting room also has food items, gifts, books, and more. FitzGerald said, "we've got wine glasses, we've got vases, we've got bottle bags."
Santa Barbara Winery has been open since 1962. It's a business that's gone through many challenges, including economic swings, weather disasters, and now a pandemic.
"People do enjoy wine in good times and bad times," said FitzGerald. "I think we made it this far and (will) survive."
She is hoping companies order gifts for their employees, and there have been many requests already. "We're getting a lot of phone orders, a lot of corporate orders. We're very busy. "
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