Wineries begin taking steps to welcome back customers

Ray Scherer

Retasting the grape!


Participants in the Hermann Wine Trail continue to tread carefully while moving ahead with their plans for upcoming activities, given the challenging circumstances presented by coronavirus.


At the start, however, a decision has already been made to cancel outright one of the group's main events: the Farmers' Table Wine Trail that was scheduled for June 13. The Hermann Chamber of Commerce will be issuing refunds to all ticket holders in upcoming weeks.


"We know this is not ideal for our tourism partners, but we needed to make the responsible decision," said Patty Held, president of the Hermann Wine Trail, in a Friday message to the community. "We partner with Missouri Common Ground for this event, so it was a group decision."


On Monday, Held told the Advertiser-Courier that Missouri Common Ground is a group of women who are also part of Missouri agriculture, in commodities such as corn, soybeans, and wine. The Hermann wineries participating in the trail pair up with the state's major commodities to present sponsorship of a unique slant, such as the Farmers' Table, for each of the events.


"We didn't want to cancel that," Held said of Farmers' Table, noting it was just too soon to definitely cement the schedule in time due to concerns stemming from the virus.


Meanwhile, she said the organizations remain on course to hold the Wild Bacon Wine Trail on Aug. 8 and 9. That event had originally been scheduled for May 2 and 3.


"We've got our fingers crossed," said Held of those plans. Wild Bacon will combine a tasting menu of bacon-oriented foods that work well with the offerings at all seven of the wineries. "Everyone's doing something a little different."


According to Held, all of the wineries are taking extra care to embrace social distancing measures despite common customer behaviors associated with their past activities.


"It's relaxing, enjoyable, socializing," she said of the wineries' typical atmosphere. "They all need business. But they need to figure it out (and) what's best for them….They're positive, (but) they want to be cautious."


The trail's season normally features combined ticket sales of more than 6,000, with five of the six events expected to be sell-outs. Besides St. Louis, Hannibal is another important draw in the state and Midwest for its base of visitors. The Hermann Area Chamber of Commerce is a key partner with its coordination.


Held has reached out to the trail's wineries for an assessment of their preparations and readiness for the season, in spite of COVID-19. Social distancing is being applied at all locations.


Adam Puchta Winery will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday for bistro curbside/delivery of food and wine. Starting Friday, the cold wine stand and outdoor seating will be open daily, with hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. The bistro will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. all Memorial Day weekend. The bistro curbside/delivery of food and wine will continue to be available.


The winery's salesroom and tasting rooms will stay closed for now. Live music is planned for Saturday, with Dennis Schilligo performing from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A band to be determined will play from 2 to 5 p.m. 


Bias Winery will remain open Friday through Sunday through the end of the month, and will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Monday for Memorial Day weekend. Tastings are limited to one group at a time in the tasting room, with a limit of 10 people.


Hermannhof Winery and Dierberg Star Lane Tasting Room reopened May 14, under limited days, on a Thursday-to-Monday schedule and open Memorial Day weekend. Attendance in the tasting room will be limited, and the patio will be open, with limited seating available. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Live music will be featured from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.


OakGlenn Vineyards & Winery is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. only on weekends through the month, and will be open those hours for the Memorial Day weekend from Thursday through Monday. Limited wine tasting will be offered starting June 1, with plans for daily openings to commence that date. Patrons can utilize the outside porch and patios, however, with social distancing respectfully requested. Curbside service will remain in place.


Robller Vineyard is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays for carry-out service. On-premise consumption of purchased bottle goods have been allowed since May 4, but public access to the building remains unavailable. Saturday hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but patrons are urged to call first. Carry-out service will be available Memorial Day.


Stone Hill Winery opened back up for retail sales as of May 4 and will be open Memorial Day weekend. Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. No tastings or tours are being done for the time being. Hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.