New Guidelines For Breweries, Wineries And Distilleries Start Saturday
Starting Saturday, outdoor breweries, wineries and distilleries across California will be able to pour drinks without having to serve food.
They new guidelines, which were changed Thursday, come as San Diego County is expected to move to the red tier sometime next week, paving the way for limited indoor operations across multiple business sectors.
Virginia Morrison, San Diego Brewers Guild President and Second Chance Beer Company CEO, said the new guidelines will do little to help her breweries bring in more customers or profits.
“We basically have three ways to earn money. One is in our tasting room, two is selling kegs to bars and restaurants and the third are cans — selling them either here or out in groceries and bottle shops,” she said. “And that's their order of profitability so that's also how we’ve all really been hurt.”
Even with the expanded guidelines for breweries, Morrison plans to keep her two locations running as restaurants. That's because restaurants can open up to 25 percent indoors when the county enters the red-tier, but breweries can not.
“When we got clarification that we could continue to operate as a restaurant, I was excited, ironically,” Morrison said.
The choice to continue operating as a restaurant is seen as ironic for Morrison because she was part of the group of beer makers that sued Gov. Gavin Newsom in December over the state’s COVID-19 restrictions on breweries.
Morrison is still critical of the new operational guidelines for breweries, which include customers having to book advance reservations, limiting customer stays to 90 minutes and ending all on-site alcoholic beverage consumption by 8 p.m.
“It's definitely more burdensome, but I also don't understand the rationale,” Morrison said. “So if I have food at the beginning I can stay for three hours after. But if I’m only having a beer, then I’m limited to 90 minutes?”
Notably, the state guidelines for brewery operations do not apply to bars in the purple or red tiers.
As for breweries, wineries and distilleries that serve food, not much will change. They will be able to operate as a restaurant under their county's current tier restrictions.