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Santa Barbara County: Wineries clarify procedures for wine tasting during pandemic

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Moving to the less restrictive red tier this week did not allow indoor services for wineries in Santa Barbara County.

"It’s actually been a great. We feel like our consumers get to really enjoy a full experience here," says CEO Laura Booras of Riverbench Vineyard.

Health guidelines for wineries also include mandated reservations.

Managers at River Bench Vineyard and Rancho Sisquco in the Santa Maria Valley say not everyone is aware of that rule.

"It’s been a little bit of confusion about what wineries including us are allowed to do. Even though it’s red tier, we’re still reservation only," says general manager Steve Fennell of Rancho Sisquoc.

Both vineyards believe making reservations in advance is a plus when it comes to ensuring visitors’ health and safety.

One couple enjoying wine tasting Rancho Sisquoc said it was easy to make a reservation.

"I just emailed them and said I’d like to come out on this day and at this time," says visitor Nanette Ferrara of Rancho Sisquoc.

Managers at the wineries say another red tier requirement is a 90 minute time limit.

"For some people they would certainly rather spend the afternoon here and longer than an hour and a half, but to me it’s just sort of a compromise of trying to balance hosting enough people to a more fair and equitable way of doing it," says Fennell.

As the county moves to less restrictive tiers, both wineries remind everyone that health protocols are still required for the time being.

California / Coronavirus / Health / Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County / Video
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Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martellotti is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Patricia, click here.

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