Wine Travel in the Time of COVID-19

Was it only three years ago I was on the road in north Florida, visiting wineries, tasting their wines and talking with winemakers from Pensacola to St. Augustine? I had fun, and my book, Florida Wine Country Guide to Northern Wineries, has been a great success. Time sure flies. But these days, like so many erstwhile wine travelers, my wine tasting has been limited to sipping on my back porch.

Personal wine tasting in your own back yard.

According to an April 4, 2020 article in Forbes, alcohol sales were up significantly, with wine sales up 66% during the first few weeks of lockdown. We “traveled” to our local grocery stores and mailboxes to pick up our wine, which achieves part of the goal, but not all of it. Travel is the other part.

Travel has always been both entertainment and education. Whether we’re visiting historical sites, recommended restaurants, or local wineries, we always learn something new about a place through their history, and their food and drink.

As we slowly work our way through this terrible pandemic and find new ways to share and communicate with friends and relatives, exploring beyond our back yards is even more important for both our physical and mental well-being. Remember, it is possible to physically distance and still be social.

If you have local wineries, you know that each one is different and offers a unique experience. During the lockdown, most wineries continued production in anticipation of reopening as well as for mail order sales. Many now have outdoor seating, if they didn’t have before, and some are setting up outdoor tastings to accommodate guests. If you venture out and visit a winery, be smart, be safe, physical distance, and enjoy.

You can also follow your favorite wineries on social media, and on blogs like this, to find out what wines they are featuring. Most states allow wineries to ship their wines to you, so if you have visited a winery in the past that you enjoyed, don’t be shy. Call them up and ask if they can send you a few bottles.

As businesses slowly reopen, we will find our new normal. In the meantime, keep in mind there are many ways to “travel,” and armchair travel is a great way to explore new vintages.

Happy Wine Trails!

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