Social Distance Winery Visit

Wine tasting is looking a little different these days. I have been pretty strict about quarantining, so I wasn’t quite sure whether venturing out to a winery was a good idea. I’ve seen a few places post things on social media about their protocols for social distancing. And given that wineries typically have lots of grass, I figured if push came to shove, I could set up my own chair in the grass, maintain my six feet of distance, and chat with my girls while drinking a bottle of wine that I purchased from the winery.

So with mask, snacks and chair in tow, I headed out to Janemark Winery in Brandywine, Maryland for a day at the winery with the girls. I don’t know if you’ve ever had an occasion to visit Southern Maryland, but we are lucky to be the home of some nice little wine trails. I love being able to jump up and visit a nice winery whenever the mood strikes me.

The winery was absolutely beautiful on this particular day. The sky was amazing and the greenery looked so plush and healthy. It was a smidge hot on this particular day, but…what are you gonna do…

As far as COVID precautions, the winery did require masks, however we did not have to wear them at our table among our own party.

So, with regards to the tasting, here’s where things were a little different. Typically with wine tasting, you’d go inside, grab a spot at the bar, and then you get schooled on all types of things about the vineyard and the process of turning grapes into wine. But things are a little different with COVID. The inside was closed. So it was outside seating only.

Because we couldn’t go inside, we also didn’t have an individual server pouring for us and giving us tidbits of information throughout the tasting. Instead we selected what we wanted from the menu, choosing from a glass, bottle, or flight of wine, and then schooling ourselves about the aromas, notes, tannins, and grapes from the handouts provided to us by the waitstaff. Of course that was all fine and well, it was just a different vibe from the usual.

My wine flight–7 wines for $10

Unlike previous winery visits, my tasting wasn’t swished around in a wine glass, but rather served in sealed plastic sample cups. I truly appreciate the steps that the winery took to ensure safety for the tasting and to limit contact and exposure of the wine servings. I didn’t expect them to go to these lengths, but this definitely makes more sense given the current state of the coronavirus.

So, the sample cups were labeled. I read through my handout, and gave each sample a good swish, swirl, and taste. I did wind up with a couple faves, but quite honestly, the best part of the whole day was being able to sit and chat with my girls in person. Life moves along even in quarantine, and we had quite a bit to catch up on. And there was no better way to do it than over drinks at the local winery.

I can definitely see us doing this again. This seems to be an activity that can done while practicing social distancing. I’m not an advocate of going back to life as if COVID doesn’t exist, but I am trying to figure out how to merge a few normal activities with being safe and cautious. And visiting wineries seems to be something that can be done if you take the right precautions.

I hope you are faring well with your quartining and social distancing. What activities are you safely adding back into your life? What’s off the table until further notice? I’d love to hear from you.

Wine Down Wednesday: how to host a virtual wine-tasting

So….who misses wine festivals???


For me, in addition to the normal activities, summers are made for discovering new wines, visiting local wineries, and going to wine festivals. I love visiting wineries and attending wine festivals. With the exception of beaches, cookouts, and vacations, it’s what I live for during the summer.

When it comes to wine festivals, I usually start working on plans during the winter. I brainstorm with my usual festival crew, find ticket deals and figure out lodging options if necessary. Then once summer kicks off, we are all set for wine festival season.

As far as visiting wineries, any day or weekend throughout the summer could lead me to a local winery. I’m lucky that I live in Maryland, which has an awesome plethora of wineries and trails. And I live close to Virginia, which has wonderful wine trails as well. So no matter what my mood or what direction I want to travel in, there’s a good chance I can pass several really good winery options. It’s so easy to build a weekend, a staycation, or a hookie day around visiting a winery nearby, no matter the season. But summers really are made for winery visits.

Covid has wrecked all plans for wine-related activities this year with the exception of purchasing a bottle and drinking it in the house. And that makes me oh, so sad. Like…really really sad.

Times are different now. And unfortunately Covid is our current reality. For me, I am still primarily still sticking to quarantine procedures. I stay in my home or I go out in open spaces, like parks. When I visit family members, we always remain outside and we stay six feet apart. And no hugging…which really really sucks.

I am not visiting restaurants except for curbside pick-up. I do quick grocery store runs. And when it comes to Target, it’s a quick twirl through the store to gather items, or I put in pick-up orders through the app. Everything else for me is off the table. And unfortunately, for now, that includes visiting wineries and attending festivals.

So since I miss girl time with my friends, and I miss wineries, my besties and I decided to try out doing a virtual wine tasting. Sooooo not the same, but satisfied our interest in finding new yummy wines, as well as our craving for social activities with each other.

So here’s what we did.

1) Select wines:
We didn’t have strict requirements for this because, without ample planning and a cushion time for delivery, we are kinda limited to the wines in our local liquor store. or wines that we already have on-hand.

2) Research facts:
When you go wine tasting, typically the host or hostess will tell you some fun facts about the vineyard or its owners, and then add some facts about the wine itself. What notes to expect, what smells and tastes will be experienced, what grapes it was made with, and how best to serve and enjoy the wine. So we looked up tidbits of information about the wines we chose.

3) Set up the Zoom/Hangouts call:
Everyone is all about zoom these days! Where has this app been all our lives?? Unless someone has an unlimited account, the max time for the free account is 40 minutes. So…plan accordingly! Luckily, bestie had an unlimited account and we were able to do our tastings, and chat while drinking more wine…without worrying about time restrictions. Find your meeting app, and set up your time.

4) Sample your wine:
We made sure we did our sampling during the video, so that we could observe initial reactions and subsequent flavor processing. I guess that helped us feel like the tasting was similar to the experience we’d have if we were together at a winery, sampling the wine for the first time. Wines change as they aerate, and sometimes that changed our perceptions of the wines during the tasting.

5) Have a rating system:
We went with the typical scale of 1 to 10 for the first meeting. Maybe we will get creative for the next round and use wine bottles or grape vines or something fancy. But 1-10 got the job done this time. Included in our rating system was our initial thoughts, whether things changes after first, second and third sips, whether we’d purchase the wine again, and why or why not.

Here are the wines we sampled for our first Wine Down Wednesday:

Liebe Winemaker’s Collection Riesling – Wegman’s $7.99

Menage Trois Luscious Pinot Noir – Local wine shop $15.99

Aged in French and American oak, containing notes of black cherry, raspberry, dark chocolate, vanilla and mocha. Pairs well with fish, seafood, and barbecue.

Von Hovel Riesling – Local wine shop $25

Notes include fruit flavors, such as peach, pear, and glazed apricot. Slightly fizzy. A sweeter riesling that is described as being a dessert wine.

It was completely by accident that we wound up sampling various price points but it was definitely great to have that as a factor of consideration, along with where the bottle was purchased. Ie., “if you’re in Wegman’s and want to grab an inexpensive bottle of wine to go with dinner, try the Liebe Riesling!”

The funnest part of the whole evening may have been drinking and chatting afterwards. We truly miss the in-person shenannigans that we’re accustomed to, so this was really a fun way to connect, learn about new wines, and catch up.

How have you been keeping up with your friends and loved ones? Socializing is so different these days. In addition to various zoom gatherings, I do find myself picking up the phone more often to ask questions and do check-ins. What have you been doing?