Visiting Sonoma County: What to Expect Amidst Covid-19

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  • on SEPTEMBER 25, 2020
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Courtesy of Ferrari Carano
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Updated Friday, September 25, 2020

As Sonoma County businesses reopen and shelter-in-place regulations surrounding Covid-19 are lifted, you may be considering a visit to Sonoma County. Of course, the decision to venture out is up to you and we support whatever you’re comfortable with, but we want to assure you that Sonoma County is doing everything possible to reduce the spread of the virus by implementing strict health and safety protocols throughout the region.

If and when you do choose to go to Sonoma County soon, that’s great! However, it’s important to know what to expect when visiting, since the typical Sonoma experience has changed in order to keep everyone as healthy and safe as possible. To help you navigate it all, we’ve gathered a few key guidelines and useful information to note as Sonoma County welcomes you back.

General Guidelines

Courtesy of La Crema at Saralee’s Vineyard

No Symptoms Allowed

It may be obvious, but it’s important to know that if you’re showing any symptoms of sickness you will be turned away. Businesses will be checking the health of their employees daily to ensure your safety, so it’s necessary to show the same courtesy. Don’t be surprised if restaurants and wineries perform temperature checks on not only employees but sometimes guests, ask you to use hand sanitizer upon arriving, or implement other techniques to foster a safe environment.

Masks Required

Face coverings are now required when inside any public place or business, as well as outside whenever 6 feet of distance cannot be maintained. If dining out or visiting a winery, you’ll be able to remove your mask once seated.

Minimal Person-to-Person Interactions

To keep social distancing in the forefront, expect less contact with servers and tasting room hosts. Menus may be replaced with large chalkboard menus, disposable menus, or orders taken by mobile phone, while waters and wine may be waiting on the table prior to your arrival. Many Sonoma wineries and restaurants will also have implemented contactless payment systems so you can purchase tastings, food, and bottles to-go without getting close to anyone.

Be Patient & Stay Flexible

Covid-19 is entirely new to all of us, so try to be understanding and flexible when venturing out. Businesses are operating under a constant flow of new processes and guidelines that change often, and many of these wineries and restaurants are reopening after having been closed for two or more months, so your patience will be most appreciated.

What to Expect at Wineries

Courtesy of Benziger Winery

Tastings by Appointment

Though many of Sonoma County’s wineries have welcomed guests in the past without a formal reservation, current circumstances have changed that model. You will now have to book a reservation in advance before visiting, which helps the winery monitor capacity for safety reasons.

Outdoor Service Only

Per the latest guidelines outlined in the State of California, wineries may only offer tastings outdoors. No indoor service is permitted at this time.

Small Groups Only

Before you start planning a wine tasting with your 30 closest friends, take note: your group size for a tasting will now be restricted to small groups only.

Sipping While Social Distancing

Crowded tasting rooms with bar service are a thing of the past. A visit to a Sonoma winery will now revolve around keeping a safe distance from others, so expect seated tastings six feet or more away from other groups.

What to Expect at Restaurants

Courtesy of Dan Gold | Unsplash

Reduced Occupancy

To monitor social distancing, many restaurants will be limiting the number of guests who visit and reservations may be required in advance. Limited seating, more space between tables for social distancing, and increased sanitation between diners may result in longer wait times and/or less availability, so if you want to ensure a seat at your favorite restaurant, it’s best to book in advance.

Small Groups Only

While you may be tempted to dine out with a big group right now, only small groups are allowed.

Outdoor Dining Only

As of July 13, per the new guidelines outlined by the State of California, restaurants will only be permitted to serve food outdoors. Indoor dining will be suspended until further notice.

What to Expect at Hotels

Courtesy of Olea Hotel

Streamlined Check-in and Check-out

Many hotels have implemented new processes to minimize person-to-person interactions, such as mobile check-in, contactless check-out, and pre-designated times for checking in and out.

Increased Sanitation of all Public Places

Hotels are going above and beyond when it comes to sanitation, including the regular disinfecting of all public spaces such as front desk counters and lobbies, elevators, door handles, public bathrooms, room keys, gym equipment, and high-touch surfaces.

Limited Use of Amenities

While you can still enjoy many great amenities, some hotel facilities may be off-limits or adjusted during your stay. It’s common for breakfast buffets to now be served as breakfast-in-bed, pool lounges available by reservation only, and fitness classes to be reduced in size and held outdoors only.

We recognize that Covid-19 is a serious health concern that impacts all of us. While the decision to travel to Sonoma County is ultimately your choice, we are here to support you if and when you do. Stay well!

Sonoma County Wineries Reopen and Welcoming Visitors

Sonoma County Businesses: Who is Open and Closed


WineCountry Staff


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