SALEM, Ore. — Many businesses across the state of Oregon have been tasked with finding creative ways to bring in customers while keeping them safe in the COVID-19 pandemic and following state guidelines.
Willamette Valley Vineyards near Salem has the space for outdoor tasting but due to Oregon's propensity for rain, they had to think of a workaround. To keep people in their own COVID-safe bubbles, the winery made what might be called literal bubbles for guests to enjoy outdoor tastings in.
“It has been a creative and unique experience that we came up with here to be able to provide a safe and friendly way for people to enjoy in their own bubble,” said Spence Fogarty, the estate general manager at Willamette Valley Vineyards.
They're not actually bubbles, but they are igloo-esque pods that Fogarty has called, "Willamette Wine Pods." They are heated inside and give you an outdoor environment with a clear view of the vineyard. Each pod is spotlessly cleaned before and after someone dines insides. There can only be four people inside at one time.
The winery just opened up these pods at the beginning of February and it’s finally given people like Debra Hamlin a chance to eat outside again.
“We have not done indoor dining since March, so being able to eat outdoors has been really nice,” said Hamlin.
There are only 11 pods for now, but Fogarty hopes that number will soon grow. If you’re hoping to make a reservation for the weekend for one of the pods, you’re going to have to wait, they’re booked until about mid-March.
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