Coming up with a reservation system can do more than just making sure there’s enough physical space between winery patrons during tastings.
Brooke Morsch, general manager of the Hosmer Winery in the Finger Lakes, said the introduction of such a system during the pandemic has been a big help to her staff, allowing them to provide better service while allowing for a more manageable workflow.
Reservations are not required at Hosmer, but they are encouraged.
“We do not require reservations — however, we recommend them, especially on the weekends, for sit-down, guided tastings,” Morsch said. “Flights and outdoor seating are first come, first serve.
“We don’t think we will ever not have our reservation system in place as it’s given us the opportunity to gauge workload from the beginning of the day and prepare enough snacks, charcuterie boards, and glass to cover us before we get busy. Sit-down tastings also allow customers to feel a little more relaxed and less hurried, which I think adds to a more pleasant atmosphere in general, as opposed to standing at the bar.”
Hosmer’s leadership has been thoughtful while navigating the pandemic. They introduced outdoor flights on their new patio (self-led tastings through any five of their wines, allowing them to accommodate more people outside with fewer staff). They required patrons to wear masks when not seated through June 26, and now require masks only for unvaccinated patrons, on the honor system. And to help with an increase in shipping, Hosmer obtained more shipping licenses and have continued to add them while also looking into shipping brokers such as VinoShipper to help with administrative work and broaden its shipping base.
An added bonus from the pandemic: Going forward, customers will continue to have snack options available as they enjoy their wine.
“The snacks we were required to serve (during the pandemic) will be sticking around, as people have enjoyed the little nibble of food along with their tasting,” Morsch said. “It also helps them remember to eat throughout the day, which sometimes people forget when they’re cruising the wine trail.”
Morsch said Hosmer is keeping up with the latest on COVID-19 and an eye on what’s happening with the new Delta variant.
“While our employees are all fully vaccinated, some of us have children at home that have not been eligible to receive the vaccine as yet, so we are weighing our options and watching the news intently,” Morsch said. “Currently, our staff has the option to mask up as they wish and we’ve been pushing our outdoor flights, as we have a beautiful new patio setup and the weather has been spectacular to allow comfortable seating.
“Any entertainment has been outside, weather permitting, but because we’re all fully vaccinated we are feeling comfortable on the whole to continue as it is for the time being.”
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