WALLINGFORD — Some groups were already starting to trickle in Saturday as Gouveia Vineyards opened at 11 a.m.
Krystina Morgan came with a group of friends and family, who separated into groups of five and three at nearby tables, shaded by wisteria. The group was celebrating Morgan’s birthday.
“I came here two years ago for my birthday and it’s just a gorgeous vineyard,” Morgan said. “You got this gorgeous view over here and the wine is really good so I just wanted to come back.”
Her friends and family said they all felt comfortable at the vineyard because there is plenty of space.
“I think there's a good enough distance that I don't think any of us have anything to worry about,” her mother, Gina Davila of Ansonia said.
Owner Allison Gouveia said the winery’s outdoor seating has been busy, despite ongoing concerns of coronavirus. Restaurants, breweries and wineries were able to open outdoor seating May 20, but have to wait until at least late June to open indoor seating.
For Gouveia Vineyards, the size of their outdoor patio and lawns have made adapting easy, Gouveia said. Patrons have all been respectful of the rules the winery detailed online and with signs.
“I feel like people are just very grateful that they're out and they also kind of know what restaurants and wineries have gone through in the last couple of months ... so people seem a little bit more apt to follow the rules and they want us to continue in the way that we're going and not to revert back to the complete shutdown again,” she said.
The Big Green Truck Pizza food truck was on site Saturday. Gouveia said they are exploring having food trucks on rotation.
Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery has opened outdoors as well, and has seen a steady crowd, co-owner Brenda Ruggiero said.
“People are extremely respectful... at least coming here to our establishment. We haven’t had any issues,” Ruggiero said. “I think people have mutual respect for one another and they don’t want people to get sick.”
The vineyard positioned tables about 11 feet apart, more than the mandated six. An outside bar makes it easy for customers to get wine without having to go inside.
The winery is not offering tastings, but added wine slushies and food platters. Gouevia is also not doing tastings.
At Gouveia, customers must enter through the front door and use social distancing markers to approach the indoor bar to order wine. Then they exit through a different door to get to the patio or grass areas. Gouveia said the tables are disinfected after each group leaves, and the bathrooms cleaned regularly. Like all places, customers must wear face masks at all times, except when sitting at a table.
Gouevia said it feels great to have customers back.
“The people are back, the vines are budding, the trees are green, there's more color than there was before … it seems as soon as we opened back up, everything came back to life,” she said.