By Angela Kurysh
February 24, 2021 (Ramona) -- Virtual happy hours are among the innovations that wineries like Vineyard Grant James have rolled out during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely impacted the Ramona wine region in San Diego’s East County.
With San Diego being in the state’s tier 1, or purple tier, businesses are currently being allowed to slowly re-open while following strict guidelines. Currently, wineries that serve food are allowed to offer outdoor tastings with social distancing, as well as takeout or curbside pickup, but not indoor service.
Susanne Sapier, owner of Vineyard Grant James in Ramona, California, and President of the Ramona Valley Vineyard Association, said, “I mean, you're open you're closed, you're open you're closed, so that's a really hard way to run a business.”
Early in the pandemic, restaurants were allowed to operate while wineries were shut down which makes owners like Sapier question fairness of the rules. Now both can be open outdoors, but many restaurants are serving customers illegally indoors. Sapier has been forced to choose to fully open to make a profit and risk the reputation of the business or follow the mandate and suffer financially.