Wine Tasting in the Time of COVID

With the reopening of some of the wineries and restaurants in Valle de Guadalupe, many people are itching to get back to Baja’s beautiful wine country after three months of staying away. Although the state of Baja California is currently restricting non-essential activity, wineries and restaurants have been permitted to reopen to the public at limited capacity after having gone through training courses and investing in proper equipment and PPE.

If you’re planning on visiting, be aware that the experience is different. While the region has always had a magical feel to it with a laidback attitude, things are not as laissez faire as they have been in the past. There are strict protocols and procedures that visitors will be subjected to and exacting standards that the businesses must adhere to. “Mexico has always had a carefree feel to it, but right now we have higher standards and higher restrictions than the U.S.,” said Kristin Magnussen Shute of Lechuza Vineyard.

While this is not the occasion to be checking out the Valle de Guadalupe for the first time, die hard Valle fans will appreciate the chance to get back to some of their favorite establishments. Now is the time to make reservations and take advantage of exclusive experiences that wineries may be currently offering. “If you’re eager to come down, there are a lot of options,” says Shute. And of course, it’s hard to go wrong when there’s great wine and food.

 

If you’re going to visit Valle de Guadalupe, here are some of the things that you should know. Remember that things are changing on a daily basis, so inquire with the individual wineries before you visit. And please stay at home if you are feeling sick.

  • The land borders between the U.S. and Mexico are still officially closed to non-essential travel through at least July 21, 2020. Baja California is a designated “red” state in Mexico’s national stoplight rating system, meaning that they are in the highest risk category for COVID and non-essential activity is not permitted. There are various checkpoints that are being sporadically manned along the highways throughout the state to discourage non-essential activity. One such checkpoint is set up near the toll booth on Mexico 1D at El Sauzal just north of the turn off to Mexico 3 to head into Valle. Non-residents may be turned away at the checkpoint and not permitted entrance.
  • Masks are required and clients must go through a health check protocol before being permitted to enter the winery. Clients will be required to answer a five-question survey that is logged for inspectors. Each client will have their temperature and oxygen levels tested before entering. Hand sanitizer is required as is use of a foot mat with cleaning solution upon entry and exit. Staff will be wearing N95 masks, glasses, and face shields. Glassware will be sanitized between uses and tables will be cleaned between groups with a three-step washing.
  • Capacity is limited to 30% indoors and 50% outdoors. Groups may not exceed 10 people.
  • Make reservations in advance for all wine tastings and meals. Each winery and restaurant has its own set of new rules and things have changed drastically from the last time you visited. There are new policies regarding pets, kids, etc. Some wineries now have a minimum consumption. Check with each individual winery before your arrival to make sure that you are aware of all new policies.
  • Be a generous tipper. The establishments are operating at 30 to 50 percent of their regular capacity and employees were out of work for the past three months.

 

List of some of the wineries below that have reopened. This list is by no means exhaustive, please check with the individual winery you wish to visit to see what their current situation is.

 

 

 

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