TORRINGTON - Events like weddings, graduation parties and paint n’ sips that normally characterize the summer season at Table Mountain Vineyards in Torrington have been canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Like all small businesses, the family owned operation adapted to the new normal that includes patrons staying at home and social distancing when they are out in public.
While it’s difficult to substitute in-person events for virtual ones, vineyard owner Patrick Zimmerer has found ways to help customers near and far throughout this time of social isolation.
“I’m not sure the community is quite ready to get back together, so if we could offer wine virtually or curbside and paint kits, these are a great way to take stress off,” Zimmerer said.
Though March is typically a “slow” month at the winery, scheduled paint n’ sip classes were canceled. To accommodate, Zimmerer had an art instructor teach a free class online, where participants could come purchase a canvas and paint kit beforehand if needed. From there, they pivoted to selling take-home paint kits allowing customers to paint gnomes and porch boards, along with some kid-friendly options.
While the paint kits don’t come with the wine that is promised during in-person paint n’ sip events, customers can still place orders for curbside pickup, thanks in part to a new online ordering system put in place during the coronavirus.
“We use a small credit card processor called Square, and they offered all their software for free,” Zimmerer said. “So fortunately, we were very quickly able to set up an online store, because sometimes that takes a lot of time.”
Another service that’s been useful in the COVID-19 era is Harvest Hosts, a membership program that provides access to a network of wineries, farms, breweries, and other attractions that invite RVers to visit and stay overnight. Zimmerer said prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Table Mountain would host roughly five or six RVs per month. Recently, he’s seen between six and eight RVs per week as the popularity of vacationing in an RV grows.
“This year, everyone we’ve met is new to RVing,” Zimmerer said. “They just got on the road to explore and travel.”
As far as traveling goes, RVs are a safe option due to social isolation and the ability to social distance outdoors, even when multiple vehicles are parked in the winery parking lot at once.
“Everyones very respectful of everyone’s space,” Zimmerer said. “It’s cool to utilize that program right now.”
The program is free for visitors, but the expectation is that they support by doing wine tastings and making purchases. Zimmerer said it’s also an opportunity to help promote Goshen County tourism by making recommendations on nearby businesses to eat, shop and visit.
As state public health guidelines allow for gatherings of larger groups, Zimmerer said he is easing slowly into reopening, possibly hosting paint n’ sip classes again in the next few weeks.
Another concern come September will be the yearly harvest, during which they bring in between 20 and 30 workers to help them pick.
“Our harvest will go as planned - weather permitting,” Zimmerer said. “Hopefully by September, things will have slowed down to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable with that.”
Customers can find more information at WyoWine.com or their Facebook page, Table Mountain Vineyards.