The COVID-19 Pandemic has certainly changed the way things are being done, especially in wine tasting rooms. The days of Spring and Fall Release Weekends with packed tasting rooms are gone. With the restrictions of what is being called Phase 1.5, here's what we've been encountering.

On July 22 and 23, we visited several wineries in Woodinville. We had appointments lined up beforehand. Our first visit was at Brian Carter Cellars. We tasted out on the patio. At Avennia, we were the only visitors, so Andrew Bradshaw took us through the lineup inside the spacious tasting room. 

The next day, we tasted at Efeste with Principal Winemaker Mark Fioré, then Guardian Cellars. In the afternoon, we joined Noah Fox Reed for a tasting of the lineup of the Tinte Cellars, William Church and Cuillin Hills collective. After Tinte, we made a quick stop at WIT to try the new Sparkling Rosé.

On Friday, July 24, on our way back to Walla Walla, we stopped in Prosser to visit the new Wautoma Springs Winery at the end of Port Avenue in the Winemakers Village. We sat out on the patio under an umbrella, and owner-winemaker Jessica Munnell poured us their current releases. 

After we returned to Walla Walla, I set up appointments at local wineries, including some new ones: Kinhaven on Merlot Drive, off Braden Road in the Southside; Alton on Peppers Bridge Road, across from Amavi; and Hoquetus, north of Highway 12. Other wineries visited were Seven Hills, Grosgrain, Va Piano, Forgeron and others. 

Watch for the September issue, on line, August 25 for reviews of the wines from the above wineries. 

In Downtown Walla Walla, there have been major changes. For a couple of weeks Main Street was blocked off to enable restaurants and tasting rooms open up out to the street. But the lack of street parking was hurting other businesses, so Main Street was reopened to traffic and "parakeets" constructed out from the curbs to create more outdoor restaurant and wine tasting space. I drove down Main Street yesterday and saw pavers being put down. It's all looking good.