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Ohio wineries see a boost during pandemic

As more people search for socially-distant activities, wineries see more visitors

OHIO, USA — The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered businesses across the country, as owners struggled with shutdowns. But for some businesses, the pandemic led to an uptick in visitors - and that includes wineries.

Donniella Winchell is the Executive Director for Ohio Wines. "We have grapes growing on rolling hills, so that makes for those natural breezes," said Winchell. "And secondary, wineries are really pretty. They're a really relaxing, beautiful place to visit."

In short, wineries are an easier spot to keep your distance, catch up with friends, and support local businesses.

Van Creasap owns Shamrock Vineyard in Waldo. He said the pandemic has been difficult to weather, but winery owners are used to all sorts of struggles.

"A lot of people see that bottle of wine behind me, and they see romance and mysticism and all these wonderful adjectives and in reality, it's farming and a lot of work!" said Creasap.

But he said the wineries are adjusting to keep customers safe and happy, even for events.

"I've had a lot of inquiries about 50 to 70 people for weddings," said Creasap. "So I'm not even getting close to that 300 mark that you read about in the guidelines."

Kent and Connie Eichenauer own Dragonfly Vineyard in Urbana, and they said they had to get creative to protect employees and customers. That included putting up hand sanitation stations, requiring customers to wear masks, and arranging tables to keep people distant.

"We have little tables that we call them our workstations, that we'll put beside a table. And more or less, we'll put everything on that table and they take it off and put it on their table," said Connie.

Kent said visitors are grateful for the changes.

"We have a lot of space outside. Our tables are 20 to 30 feet apart, plus being outside. There are some people that have said this is the only place they've come since everything opened back up, just because they feel safe here," said Kent.

There are six different wine trails in Ohio. The wine trail in Central Ohio is called the Capital City Wine Trail, which includes 19 different wineries.

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