ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It has been a long wait for winery and distillery owners, but under the governor’s updated health order, they are now allowed to operate like breweries and restaurants. Sean Sheehan, the owner of Sheehan Winery, says it was difficult to watch wineries, get passed up for reopening week, after week, but he stayed positive.
“It gave us time to really implement our COVID-safe practices,” said Sheehan. He started Sheehan winery five years ago in the back yard of his south valley home. He says a business owner never really plans for a pandemic to temporarily shut down your company.
Selling fewer bottles of wine than ever before, Sunday boxes of wine are piled up in his storage garage. “Our sales versus last year, from March to July are down about 80%,” said Sheehan.
Zac Hulm, one of the owners of Still Spirits Distillery in Downtown Albuquerque, says their sales have taken a big dive too. “Since we’re new, we’re mostly by the glass, our business, but yeah probably at least 95%,” said Hulm.
Now under the governor’s updated health order, both Sheehan and Hulm are able to open again, at 25% capacity with patio service only. Sheehan says he’s now offering wine tasting by appointment only and this weekend’s slots filled up fast.
“We see that people have really been missing the experience of in-person wine tasting,” said Sheehan. Hulme is working on getting a sidewalk dining permit, he says he thinks he’ll be able to accommodate about six people in front of his distillery.
“We’ll probably do it as a shift, you can rent the patio out with your friends,” said Hulme. He says he’s hoping to open the Still Spirits sidewalk patio by next weekend, depending on when he gets the permit approved by the city.
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