Visiting Sonoma County: What to Expect Amidst Covid-19

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  • on MARCH 20, 2021
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Visiting Sonoma County: What to Expect Amidst Covid-19

By WineCountry Collective March 20, 2021

Good news! As of June 15, Sonoma County is fully open. Wineries, restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters, and most everyday places are operating as normal – with no capacity limits or physical distancing required. However, everyone is still required to follow masking guidelines in select settings. Please visit our pandemic news page for more information.

Disclaimer: Please note this blog post is outdated, as California has lifted all restrictions. It’s still a good idea to contact businesses before visiting, though, to confirm hours and reservation guidelines.

General Guidelines

La Crema at Saralee's Vineyard
Photo 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 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, so your patience will be most appreciated.

What to Expect at Wineries

Benziger Winery
Photo 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 vs Indoor Service

Wineries are currently allowed to offer both indoor and outdoor service, with indoor service limited to 25% capacity.

Small Groups Only

Before you start planning a wine tasting with your 30 closest friends, take note: your group size for a tasting will be restricted to small groups only. Check with each winery on group size limitations before booking.

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

Unsplash | Dan Gold
Photo courtesy of Unsplash | Dan Gold

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, smaller groups are encouraged. Check with a restaurant on group size limitations in advance before booking.

Outdoor vs Indoor Dining

Sonoma County restaurants are now allowed to offer both indoor and outdoor in-person dining. Restaurants are allowed to open indoors with 50% capacity or a maximum of 200 people, whichever is fewer.

What to Expect at Hotels

Olea Porch
Photo 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 or held outside.

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!