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Lincoln winery reopens — with modifications

State guidelines now allow Placer County to reopen dine-in restaurants, but wineries are still barred. Thankfully, Wise Villa Winery has a Tuscon-inspired bistro.

LINCOLN, California — A Tuscan-inspired bistro overlooking 35 acres of vineyard in Lincoln, California, will spring back to life Friday after being reduced to curbside pick-up orders since mid-March due to the state's stay-at-home order.

Wise Villa Winery is the only vineyard in Placer County with a restaurant, and because of the bistro, they're able to reopen. But without wine tastings. 

"The whole idea is to come out, have wine and food, and feel like you're on vacation," said its owner, Dr. Grover Lee, who called back his 40 employees from their temporary lay offs.

He said his passion of pairing food and wine became his saving grace amid the pandemic.

State guidelines now allow Placer County to reopen dine-in restaurants, but wineries — which are considered high-risk — are still barred from reopening and can only provide curbside pick-up and delivery. They can also contract a food vendor, but the stipulation remains, alcohol can only be served with food. 

Lee is urging guests to first make reservations, so people can be seated socially distanced.

"You don't want to take advantage of a great gift given to you- you want to be careful about it," Lee said. 

He says a hostess will ask screening questions before allowing guests inside. Thermometers will be available. 

Staff, who will be wearing masks, will be disinfecting surfaces constantly. 

"We're going to follow the rules, very, very carefully," Lee said.

Attracting crowds of visitors from out of county is still a concern. That is one challenge the California Wine Institute is trying to address as it pushes proposals to allow some of the state's 3,900 wineries reopen without a food requirement. 

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Van Tieu.

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