Why This Winery Is Keeping Things Outside

When it comes to COVID-19 and the Delta variant, one New Jersey winery owner has decided that it is better to be safe than sorry when serving customers.

In New Jersey, patrons at restaurants can legally dine indoors. While wineries are governed under the same rules as restaurants in New Jersey, Villa Milagro Vineyards owner Audrey Cross is keeping her customers outside for now.

“Prior to the Delta variant, we were 100% open for outdoor service and open for indoor service with appropriate social distancing,” said Cross, an attorney who has her Master of Public Health Degree. “Our wineries have invested in expansion of outdoor furnishings to increase seating areas, provide outdoor entertainment and activities such as firepits, cornhole and bocce.  

“My own small winery has a pergola where outdoor music is offered each weekend.” 

With the weather currently staying warm, there’s no reason to potentially bring the Delta variant indoors.

“We are doing outdoor seating only and will continue to do so as long as weather permits. We have outdoor heaters,” she said.

Online sales, which helped keep the winery afloat during the pandemic during its period of closure, will continue.

Requiring reservations are another tool that have helped the winery manage its occupancy and protect its employees and guests, something Cross said was of utmost importance. 

The reservation system is a result of the pandemic that will stick around, she added, because it gives them the power to control social distancing during peak virus spread periods.

 “We highly value the health and safety of our employees and guests. While our employees are all vaccinated, we are aware that we can still contract and spread COVID from and to our customers,” Cross said. “My background includes public health and I would rather err on the side of caution than to risk contagion to or from anyone.”

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