Dear Friends,

Last week Governor Brown provided further details on the seven prerequisites to be met by counties seeking approval to execute Phase I of the state’s “Reopening Oregon” plan. That 25-slide PowerPoint plan can be found, along with many other resources, in the OWB’s COVID-19 toolkit.
 
In summary, the prerequisites for counties are:
  • A downward trend in COVID-19 hospital admissions;
  • Minimum testing and contact tracing capabilities;
  • Adequate hospital surge capacity, quarantine facilities and personal protection equipment.
Phase I allows for county-by-county reopening of restaurants, winery tasting rooms and certain other businesses possibly as early as Friday. To assist business owners, the Oregon Health Authority has prepared this five-page guidance for employers preparing to resume commercial activities. It is packed with a number of embedded links to federal and state agencies.
This comprehensive webpage from OHA identifies a number of state and community resources that may be helpful to business owners and members of their work teams. The page includes a number of guidance documents in multiple languages.

Some common questions to be expected from guests and staff members about safety practices can be answered by these signage packages available from the Oregon Health Authority. They cover handwashingresponsible spacing, and COVID-19 symptoms to watch for. The Willamette Valley Wineries Association offers a set of four signage templates with additional text suggestions here for those producing custom signage consistent with their individual business’s brand standards.
 
Reinvigorating Oregon’s wine economy of course requires that managers and front line staff members embrace new sanitation practices to build consumer confidence and ensure worker safety. Special thanks go to the industry volunteers from around the state who dedicated hours to the important work of defining, debating and delivering a final set of operating guidelines for tasting rooms that build on the state’s mandated safety measures and go beyond them where necessary to address the unique considerations specific to wineries. A summary is provided here, and the final guidelines document will be sent to the industry separately no later than tomorrow.

And while the desire to get back to normal as soon as possible is understandable, this post from the National Association of Corporate Directors is a timely reminder to protect your irreplaceable brand assets and carefully weigh the pressing temptation to reopen against the need for proper safeguards and training regimes.
With those in place, and in anticipation of wineries once again welcoming guests, the OWB adapted a proven consumer promotional platform to generate immediate sales while at the same time setting up return visits to Oregon wine regions. Oregon Vine Perks rewards consumers for their purchases with bounce back incentives to drive tasting room business this summer. Wineries need only register to take advantage of the publicity and advertising that will begin creating consumer awareness starting next week.
To maximize the local impact of consumer spending on locally made wines, OWB has designated the Oregon Food Bank, and its more than 1,400 partner pantries, as the Oregon Vine Perks charitable beneficiary. More information can be found in the Oregon Vine Perks toolkit

Safety standards for vineyard workers are also critically important to our industry’s recovery. Recent media coverage has focused on new temporary sanitation and worker housing rules announced late last month by Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The new rules are in effect as of this past Monday, May 11. They are expected to significantly limit available ag labor housing and overheat demand for portable sanitation equipment beyond what can be supplied right away. As a result OSHA clarified late last week that the agency will not begin enforcement activities until June 1.
 
Two partner organizations have each made new information available that offers a snapshot of where we are now as well as some perspectives on where the markets are heading. WineAmerica sent this topline summary of data from 83 Oregon respondents reporting on COVID-19 impacts. Vinexpo offers some glimpses into the past, present and future as envisioned by four industry members looking across the three-tier system in this free on-demand webinar entitled “The Evolving Landscape of the Wine & Spirits Industry.”

If you’re looking for new reading material, you will find some thought-provoking analyses of our business from two experienced and insightful Northwest wine industry partners. Erik McLaughlin, CEO of Metis, shares his thoughts on navigating through the emergency, and Deborah Steinthal, managing director with Scion Advisors, writes about “How COVID-19 is making ‘warriors’ out of wine entrepreneurs.”

Two final points related to reopening our wine regions. First, wineries will want to update their tasting room profile information here to reflect any changes potential guests should be aware of in operating hours, visitor and event policies or other aspects of the on-site experience. Your updates allow the OWB, Travel Oregon and other tourism partners to portray your winery accurately for media and anyone looking forward to a wine country getaway. Second, remember to post your event and activity updates here to the OWB’s industry and consumer-facing calendars and to check those first for potential conflicts before scheduling anything new. Thank you for your help to make sure we avoid any intra-industry scheduling conflicts.


Tom Danowski
President
Oregon Wine Board
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