On Monday, April 27, Governor Greg Abbott announced a plan to loosen the “stay-at-home” order that had closed winery tasting rooms across the state. Effective May 1, wineries would be allowed to open for quick tastings and sales of to-go bottles, but their capacity would be limited to 25% in most areas in the state. Wineries in rural counties with fewer than five COVID-19 cases would be able to open at 50% occupancy. The Governor’s office had issued strict sanitation protocols. Bars would not be allowed to open May 1 but might be included in the next phase of reopening later in May. Full report
Within hours of the Governor’s announcement, some wineries posted reopening weekend plans on social media accounts. On Wednesday, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) issued additional comments confirming that wineries would be allowed to open under these limited purposes. Several wineries then retracted their plans for more robust events. While on-site consumption inside tasting rooms is prohibited, many wineries consider their outdoor spaces to be off-site and will allow guests to enjoy purchases there. Time will tell whether or not this proves to be a satisfactory interpretation of the guidance.
The Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA) held a conference call on Wednesday clarifying the TABC bulletin and advising wineries on the best ways to ensure guest and staff safety. Some wineries have opted not to open beyond the current to-go and curbside operations that have been in effect for weeks. While wineries want nothing more than to open their doors wide to throngs of guests, they must continue to protect staff and guest health and follow the ever-changing laws.
Consumers visiting Texas wineries this weekend should be prepared for some changes to the usual ways wineries do business. Each winery has implemented slightly different procedures. In most cases, indoor tasting rooms are closed except for bottle sales. Quick tastings may be conducted inside, but there is generally no lingering inside the tasting room. Plan to make the sale and then take the bottle outside. You may be drinking from plastic cups, or even asked to bring your own glass. (You may wish to bring your own glassware, knowing that the other option is to drink from plastic!) Bring a wine opener too. Better safe than sorry. Food may not be available for purchase, but outside food is allowed at many wineries.
Wineries are only allowed to host 25% or 50% of their occupancy, depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 in their county. Therefore, party size will be limited, and reservations are generally required. Since wineries are operating under reduced capacity restrictions, they may enforce a time limit on your visit. Table spacing will be enforced so you won’t be able to rearrange your tables and chairs to get a better view. Don’t forget to give everyone a little extra space! At some wineries with large outdoor spaces, you may be allowed to bring lawn chairs. Some wineries ask that you bag and take your own trash. It’s a whole new world out there!
Please make every effort to comply with guidelines provided by winery staff and allow for extra time and patience as they work through this new system.
At press time, Texas Wine Lover is aware of the following wineries that plan to open this weekend. Since the current situation is particularly fluid, be sure to double check this information directly with the winery. Most wineries have complete details listed on Facebook.
Of course, if you are feeling sick or have been exposed to someone who is sick, please stay home!
As Texas wineries prepare to greet guests again this weekend, wineries desperately want to show hospitality, serve you safely, keep their employees safe, and be in compliance with the operating regulations. It is certainly a balancing act! We ask that you extend every courtesy to your fellow Texans as we navigate this uncharted territory together.
290 Wine Castle – Open Friday at noon for normal business hours. Cheeseboards and pizza available.
4.0 Cellars – Open Monday – Saturday 10-5:30, Sunday 11-5. Quick tastings to help make purchase decisions. Bottle purchases for off-site consumption. No groups larger than 6. Outdoor areas are closed. Masks encouraged while on property.
Ab Astris Winery – Open Saturday and Sunday 12-5. Continuing only bottle sales to adhere to TABC guidelines.
Arché – Open by reservation starting at noon on Saturday and Sunday. Bottle service only. Bring your own glassware, openers, and trash bag. 90-minute limit. 6 maximum per group. Masks recommended when in tasting room. No food served, but picnics are welcome.
Arrowhead Creek Vineyard – Open for tastings Friday – Sunday 3-6. Live music Saturday.
Augusta Vin Winery – Open Friday 12-7, Saturday 11-7, Sunday 12-7, Monday – Thursday 12-6. Restaurant reservations highly recommended to ensure proper guest distancing and adherence to 50% occupancy limit. No more than 6 per group indoors. Outdoor bar open for bottle or glass service.
Blue Ostrich Winery – Open by reservation to sit at covered outdoor patio tables. No groups more than 6. No flights will be served. Guests may taste new wines they are considering purchasing and staff will assist with purchase. Wine will be offered in disposable cups or stemware may be purchased to use and keep. Masks recommended when in indoor tasting room. Lawn chairs and blankets are not allowed on lawn.
Bolen Vineyards – Open Saturday 1-6. Sales by the bottle. Bring your own snacks or lunch.
Bull Lion Ranch & Vineyard – Open Saturday 1-5 by reservations only.
Bull Lion Ranch Wine Shop in Granbury – Open Friday 4-8, Saturday 2-8. Sidewalk Seating on the Square
Cast Iron Winery – Open Friday 12-8. Saturday and Sunday 12-6. Lawn Chairs encouraged.
Christoval Vineyards – Open 11:30-8.
Cross Mountain Vineyards – Open Friday – Monday 1-7
Fall Creek Vineyards – Open starting Friday, May 1 with a blind tasting of Fall Creek wines with Texas wine ambassador Jason Hisaw Friday at 6 pm. $20/members $15 sign up online.
El Gaucho Winery – Open Friday with regular hours.
Fiesta Winery – Friday and Saturday 10-6, Sunday 12-5, Monday – Thursday 10-5. Wine by the bottle. Disposable cups or bring your own. No tastings or glass pours. No food available, so bring your own.
Hawk’s Shadow Winery – Open Friday 12-5 by appointment and 12-6 Saturday and Sunday. Picnics welcome. No groups larger than 8, including kids. Time limits may be reduced to 1 hour to help enforce capacity limitations.
Hye Meadow Winery – Open Friday and Saturday 12-6 and Sunday 12-5. Reservations required for parties of 6+. Enjoy a walk on the 3-mile walking path.
Landon Winery – Opening all four of their tasting rooms for on-site consumption of food and wine. 25% occupancy inside. 6-foot social distancing inside and on the patios.
Longhorn Cellars – Friday 11-5, Saturday 10-6, Sunday 12-5
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards – Fredericksburg – Open regular hours for quick tastings and bottle sales for off premise consumption.
Los Pinos Ranch Vineyards – Open Friday 4-8 for takeout only, Saturday 12-10, Sunday 12-4. Reservations only. No parties larger than 6.
Perissos Vineyard and Winery – Open 12-5, 7 days a week. Limited outdoor seating available. Bottle purchase only. No groups larger than 6, including kids. Time limits may be enforced. No food will be available.
Red House Winery – Open Friday 1-6 and resuming daily hours 1-6, closed Sunday.
Rusty Hook Winery – Open Saturday 1-6. Outdoor bottle sales only. No children please. Outside food also available for purchase.
Stone House Vineyard – Open Friday by reservation. Glass and bottle service only. No food.
Stoneledge Vineyard and Winery – Open Saturday 1-6. Wines sold by the bottle. No food will be sold, but outside food is allowed. Wine offered in disposable wine glasses or bring your own.
Texas Legato – Open Friday and Saturday 12-6 and Sunday 12-5. Free logo glasses with 2 bottle purchase.