Napa County says wineries can't roll in food options to be able to reopen earlier, officials say

California's recent allowance for winery tasting rooms to reopen as long as they serve meals along with the libations doesn't overturn Napa County policy over the past three decades barring certain new winery food service, officials confirmed.

County Public Health Officer Karen Relucio and David Morrison, director of planning, building and environmental services, sent a letter to wine industry and Napa County Farm Bureau leaders on May 26 confirming that certain winery-related retail uses are now allowed. These uses include direct-to-consumer sales of wine and wine-related merchandise, if such activities are in full compliance with county health orders and COVID-19 industry compliance.

This follows the California guidance May 12 that restaurant dining could resume in approved counties with precautions, and that applied to wineries, breweries and other beverage producers with on-premises dining. Napa County was approved for that on May 19. However, the May 12 and other state orders continue to forbid "hospitality services," such as those provided at bars, wineries, tasting rooms and lounges.

Stemming from its 1990 Winery Definition Ordinance, Napa County also prohibits wineries from operating as restaurants, offering dine-in meals, either directly by wineries or by contract with other vendors, wineries and tasting rooms, as well as onsite wine and food pairings.

Relucio and Morrison said Napa County is actively working with its state and industry partners to allow wineries, wine tasting rooms and other businesses to re-open as soon as authorized by the state as part of either expanded stage 2 or stage 3 of the California's four-phase reopening plan.

Meanwhile, winery owners and operators should continue to refrain from food service, dine-in meals and food trucks at this time, county officials wrote in the letter.

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