Normal Is Boring Anyway

Pandemic holds on, yet we get along

By Hilary Berg

While the past year was not exactly normal, 2021 made a valiant effort, exceeding 2020 yet shy of pre-pandemic calm.

Gathering with friends made a world of difference. With masks on, open spaces and vaccinated guest lists, get-togethers resumed on patios and decks across Oregon. Tasting rooms also perked up as vaccination rates increased and state mandates loosened.

Taking further precaution, many wineries changed from regular business hours to appointments in order to control occupancy. From what I’ve heard and from my own winery’s experience, this adjustment has been a resounding success, attracting interested buyers, translating into more meaningful sales and deeper one-on-one experiences. 

For some wineries, 2021 was the time to expand, creating satellite tasting rooms far from home base. Here in McMinnville, specifically Third Street, a number of brands outside the Willamette Valley opened shop, including Jacob Williams Winery from the Columbia Gorge and Troon Vineyard based in Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley. Both make bold statements with their big reds in the heart of Pinot country.

On the flipside, Willamette Valley wineries looked elsewhere, too, expanding business in popular destinations like Bend. In Oregon’s high desert, Stoller Wine Group opened its wine bar, and Domaine Serene, its wine lounge, both spaces replete with warm wood, cozy spaces and world-class Pinot Noir. 

These secondary sites allow wineries to take advantage of high foot traffic not possible at their estates tucked away in scenery-soaked, vine-lined locations, forever the main attraction of wine country.

Most festivals were still hesitant with staging in-person events, understandably knowing large gatherings can quickly become hot spots of COVID-19 infection. But thankfully, fundraisers remained strong even in the online arena. The 30th annual ¡Salud! The Oregon Pinot Noir Auction raised $850,000 via the virtual event benefitting vineyard worker healthcare. With smartphones attached to our wrists and hips, the success of online alternatives is no major surprise.

Although we’re still wearing masks, keeping physical distance — mostly with strangers — and sharing vaccination selfies, life looks more familiar than a year ago. Here’s to hoping a cure is found soon or vaccinations reach much higher numbers, snuffing it out the ol’ polio way.

No matter what happens in 2022, we’re all in this together. Cheers to embracing whatever the year brings.

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable