On Thursday, May 28, Walla Walla County was given the go ahead to open businesses for Phase 2 of the COVID-19 reopening. Some wineries and restaurants opened over the weekend, others are reopening this week. The conditions for wine tasting rooms and restaurants are as follows:
Tastings are by reservation only for parties of five or less. Tables are set 6 feet apart and seating areas must operate at 50% capacity or less. Masks must be worn except when tasting wines. Servers must wear masks at all times. There must be extensive sanitation throughout.
The Walla Walla City Council has unanimously allowed restaurants to open out into the sidewalks, enabling diners to enjoy their meals in fresh air.
Not all tasting rooms and restaurants are opening at this time. TMac's has decided to stay with take out only for the time being, since the dining and bar areas are better suited to intimate dining and drinking than social distancing.
For the next couple of weeks, I will still be working at home tasting and reviewing wines that have already been delivered or picked up, for the July issue of the Review of Washington Wines. That issue will include wines from the Columbia Gorge (Syncline, Savage Grace, COR Cellars and Domaine Pouillon) and recent releases from the Walla Walla Valley. The issue will also introduce new wines from Goose Ridge, Love That Red and Convergence Zone Cellars.
Once the July issue is wrapped up, I will resume making the rounds of Walla Walla Valley tasting rooms, including Valdemar Estate, Tertulia Cellars and Gifford Hirlinger. Also, I will have wines shipped from the Lake Chelan AVA.
So this is the beginning of the "New Normal."