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Santa Barbara County wineries prepare for first ‘Orange Tier’ weekend

Babcock Winery
Scott Sheahen / KEYT

LOMPOC, Calif. —  Santa Barbara County entered the ‘Orange Tier’ of the COVID-19 reopening. In the ‘Orange Tier’ indoor capacity churches, gyms and restaurants is 50%. And wineries can have 25% capacity.

Babcock Winery is preparing for its first weekend open indoors since the start of the pandemic. They redesigned their tasting areas to adhere to COVID-19 restrictions. Now they can reopen their 5,000 square foot tasting and shopping warehouse.

Stefan Manns and his friends from Orange County bounced around the Lompoc and Santa Ynez Valleys wine tasting. Manns said about sitting inside again, "It's a new feeling. An old and new feeling. So it feels like going back to what we're all used to."

Kim and her husband John Frazier also visited Santa Barbara County from Orange County for wine tasting. Kim said, "Glad everything is changing again. Getting better."

While her husband John added, "Glad things are kind of getting back to normal somewhat."

The less restrictive 'Orange Tier' of the state's COVID-19 reopening plan means wineries can open indoor seating again at 25% capacity.

Lisa Babcock and her husband own Babcock Winery. Lisa said, "We're so excited to welcome people back into our huge space, five thousand feet of awesomeness."

Workers at Babcock Winery, like many others across the Santa Ynez and Lompoc Valleys, said the COVID-19 closures over the past year have been a roller coaster ride.

Now customers hope the relaxed guidelines are a positive sign for even more reopenings.

"Can't wait to experience more of it," said Manns. "To get back to the way it was. And to find new places, maybe make some new friends and just have a good time."

With Santa Barbara County being in the 'Orange Tier', Babcock Winery is happy to give their guests the option of enjoying their expanded outdoor space or being able to come in, explore and sit down with their wine.

"It was interesting people could still come inside but they weren't able to taste," said Lisa Babcock. "So it changed the vibe a lot. So to have people engaged inside and outside together kind of just really helping to just create the vibe and uplift the whole space."

Customers are enjoying the change of scenery.

"And it keeps changing," said Kim Frazier. "The merchandise keeps changing. So it's fun to see what's new. And there's always something new here."

Babcock Winery hopes the indoor seating option brings out more customers this weekend.

Santa Barbara - South County / Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County
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Scott Sheahen

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

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