B.C. wineries are open for indoor tasting despite new provincial health regulations. Photo- 
50th Parallel Winery, Instagram.

Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Although current provincial health orders prohibit restaurants, pubs and bars from offering indoor dining services, wineries can still host indoor samplings of their products.

According to Miles Prodan, the president and CEO of Wine Growers British Columbia (WGBC), wineries were partially spared by provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s latest “circuit breaker” health restrictions because wine tastings are viewed as a retail necessity, not a social gathering.

“You wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on; you don’t buy a wine without having a taste,” Prodan said.

Many of the wineries across the province have a system that requires people to book a sampling reservation in advance. Tasting sessions don’t typically last longer than 10 minutes and participants are only given three 1.5-ounce samples.

“People were there to taste and to get to know the wine and to buy the wine. It’s not as though they were standing around and having a glass of wine,” said Prodan.

When this concept was explained to health authorities, they gave wineries the green light to host indoor tastings.

“Interior Health’s ultimate goal is to keep people from gathering inside, and that’s why they moved all food and alcohol services outside,” he said. “They said, ‘As long as your tasting isn’t sitting down, we’ll permit that to happen inside.’”

In an email to Kelowna Capital News, Interior Health (IH) said that provincial manufacturers of wine, beer, cider and spirits are permitted to be open and provide tastings indoors.

“This must be for tastings only and be served for the purpose of tasting with intention for purchase,” said IH. “Where possible, it is encouraged to do this outdoors. As well, businesses need to have an approved COVID-19 safety plan.”

READ MORE: Similkameen winery co-owned by Dr. Bonnie Henry – Kelowna Capital News

After a busy Easter weekend, Ron Kubek, the owner of Lightning Rock Winery in Summerland, said the new restrictions are a “double-edged sword.”

“We’re seeing a lot of people locally that have not been out to our winery and been out to the Summerland area coming to experience all the great wineries,” said Kubek. “We actually had a busy weekend of tastings.”

Kubek added that he was surprised — but not shocked — that indoor wine tasting was permitted.

“I wasn’t surprised in the sense that we really worked hard as an industry last year … wineries, distilleries, breweries are run by entrepreneurial people,” he said. “Those are what the rules are, and we’ll adapt.”

He said that COVID-19 has forced the wine industry to take reservations more seriously, highlighting that the winery has tasting sessions booked right up until June.

“We have tasting fees and make it a true experience rather than just come in, drink, stay or leave,” he said. “We want to make it, so you have a true experience when you come out.”

Despite this silver lining in the restrictions, Prodan said that many wineries across the province feel the pressure of the new restrictions.

“If a winery has a restaurant, they now have to do that outside. There are restrictions in space, weather dependant and not everybody has a patio to move out into,” he said.

According to a WGBC survey from August 2020, 83 per cent of wineries and grape growers in the province have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. The survey also found that one in every 10 wineries and grape growers is at risk of closing, with 58 per cent seeing a loss in revenue and 55 per cent have reduced access to customers.

Prodan said that a similar survey was conducted after the province implemented the last round of restrictions — 75 per cent of those who responded were anticipating a loss of income.

“We’re disappointed because of how it’s going to impact all industries, in particular ours, but we understand that it’s something that needs to happen,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C. stops indoor dining, fitness, religious service due to COVID-19 spike

READ MORE: Dining indoors at YLW’s White Spot allowed despite public health orders


@aaron_hemens
aaron.hemens@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC Wine

Just Posted

Fraser Health registered nurse Kai Kayibadi draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. To reduce long lines and wait times the first 1,000 Surrey residents to arrive at the neighbourhood clinic on both Monday and Tuesday will receive wristbands and a same-day appointment. The effort is in addition to the provincial vaccination plan which is now open for bookings to anyone who is 18 years and older. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
69 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Interior Health

The province, in total, recorded 411 new cases showing a downtrend of new infections

Council has allocated funding in the 2021 budget to upgrade and restore this part of the Gartrell Trail named after Summerland pioneers Fred and Mary Gartrell. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
COLUMN: Providing answers about Summerland’s Gartrell Trail

This 225-square-metre strip of land lies between the existing Gartrell Trail and the high water mark

WorkSafe BC is out in the Interior making sure wineries, cideries and breweries are adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols. (File photo)
WorkSafe visiting Interior wineries, cideries and breweries ahead of tourist tasting season

40 field inspections and 35 consultations are expected over next few weeks

B.C. RCMP released these two photos of Erick Fryer (left) and Carlo Fryer (right). The two brothers from Kamloops were found dead near a remote road in Naramata May 10, 2021. (RCMP photo)
Slain Kamloops brothers found near Penticton not likely connected to recent B.C. gang wars: RCMP

Police confirm the bodies found near Naramata as Erick Fryer, 29, and Carlo Fryer, 31

Send your letter to the editor via email to news@summerlandreview.com. Please included your first and last name, address, and phone number.
LETTER: Summerland’s lakeshore land should be protected

There is an opportunity to restore this important lakeshore habitat for fish and wildlife

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

Coldstream Fire Department was quick to arrive and knock down a fire Sunday, May 16, in a Matner Lane orchard just up the hill from the firehall on Aberdeen Road. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Coldstream fire crews quick to knock down blaze

Fire broke out just before 2:30 p.m. on Matner Lane, which is just up the hill from the firehall on Aberdeen Road

Several RCMP cruisers stationed out front of Kelowna’s Global Fitness following a shooting on the morning of Monday, March 29. The shooting was later revealed to be gang-related. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
B.C.’s top gangs are operating in Kelowna: RCMP

‘We have all of the major gangs in Kelowna,’ said Supt. Kara Triance

Crews battled a grass fire behind the Tolko mill along the railway tracks off Otter Lake Cross Road in Spallumcheen Monday, April 26. (Caitlin Clow - Morning Star file)
Reports of man lighting Vernon fires with blowtorch

Grassfires sparked near train tracks, behind bottle depot

Kelowna RCMP precinct. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News file)
Kelowna RCMP promotion process tainted with bias: federal judge

An officer was passed over for a promotion in 2015

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Most Read