Hill Country Grapevine
Hello Texas Wine Lovers!
A Dallas business owner defied court orders and reopened her salon last week during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Upon closer examination, this was not so much an act of defiance as an act of preservation and responsibility of a mother who just wanted to be able to feed her children, but was told that she was “non-essential,” and therefore, not permitted to work. However, her children whom depended on her found her very “essential.” Believe it or not, Shelley Luther was found guilty, incarcerated and fined for being “selfish” and “putting her own interests ahead of those in the community.” The Texas Supreme Court intervened and upon her release from jail, we all suddenly became acutely aware of the challenge to our civil liberties during this chaotic and uncertain time.
Why are generously paid elected officials deciding whether one’s occupation is “essential” or “non-essential?” All the “the non-essentials who were furloughed from a job or actually lost their jobs completely during this time stand and applaud Shelley Luther for her bold, brave and fierce declaration of independence. The COVID “crisis” whether real or perceived has disrupted numerous businesses including our Texas wine industry and this has stirred some heated debate.
The initial intent of the stay-at-home order was simply to prevent the overburdening of our hospitals as they continue to respond to the inevitable spread of the coronavirus. It’s time to reopen the Texas economy and allow hard working “non-essential” people to go back to work and the Texas wine industry is more than ready. While the wine industry may not be saving lives, there are numerous “non-essentials” required to continue and maintain the “essential” protocol of winemaking. The chemistry waits on no one. Neglect will render the grape of potential to a bitter vinegar.
First of all, wineries are not bars, so stop the “non-essential” shaming of our Tasting Rooms. We have an obligation to maintain this multi billion dollar business because the mechanisms of this industry don’t stop just because hundreds of essential personnel were furloughed and deemed non-essential. This is an agricultural product and we must gravitate around the season. The seasonal cycle of the grape continues as does the production of the grape. Vineyards must be maintained and that requires personnel. Barrels must be bottled and that requires personnel. Sales and consumption are the intended result of the grape cycle and that requires personnel.
Why would one be allowed access to a grocery store to buy groceries and alcohol, but not be allowed access to the beautiful outdoor facilities of the wineries of the Texas Hill Country? Many of these establishments have plenty of space outside to exercise the required social distancing, while providing tastings or bottle services as well as plenty of healthy sunshine.
Here is the exciting news! Some wineries are already open and conducting more than a bottle purchase and quick departure ahead of the proposed schedule of May 18th. Will there be consequences? Will they be policed, reported and fined? Perhaps, but we encourage all those whom have had enough of this forced lockdown to get out and support these brave establishments. We stand and applaud these fearless non-essential Tasting Rooms and their non-essential defiance. The government shut us down. We’ve have to open it up again. No more shelter in place, only wine in my face is the new let me out, quarantine shout of our Texas Hill Country! Stop the panic and end this isolation. For obvious reasons, we cannot reveal the identities of these brave vincognitos, but listen to the grapevine. We invite all of you Texan wine lovers to get out and enjoy this beautiful Texas Hill Country. Go taste wine, linger on the spacious properties and listen to the live music.