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'It has been a roller coaster': Yamhill County wineries to reopen indoor tasting rooms

After moving into the high risk level, Yamhill County restaurants and wineries will once again be allowed to offer limited indoor dining.

YAMHILL COUNTY, Ore. — Starting Friday, February 25, Yamhill County will be among Oregon’s latest counties to move out of the extreme risk level and into the state's high risk level, once again allowing for limited indoor dining.

“You have no idea how excited we are to do indoor tasting again,” said Michelle Kaufmann, communications director for Stoller Family Estate Vineyard and Winery in Dayton. Kaufmann had been waiting for the news since last fall, when the governor halted indoor dining in several counties, including Yamhill, after an uptick in COVID-19 cases. The move cost wineries Thanksgiving business, their biggest in-person week of the year.

“To be able to bring people indoors where they'll be able to be just a little bit warmer and a little bit cozier, it's huge!” said Kaufmann. “It's really important this time of year.”

All around wine country, the news brought hope.

“We hope we get to stay open inside … it has been a roller coaster for sure,” said Rich and Julie Schoenert, owners of Avidity Wines in Newberg. Their indoor seating is triple what their tent has allowed, though they've been grateful for it.

“Being just a small, family-owned winery, you know every customer counts,” said Julie. “We've had to turn some people away because we ran out of room,” added Rich.

Oregon's "high risk" level allows for indoor dining at 25% capacity or up to 50 people, whichever is smaller. By Friday, indoor seating at Avidity, Stoller and most wineries in Yamhill County will be ready to go.

“We are just so appreciative of the folks who have come in and have come back and have supported us,” said Julie Schoenert. “It touches us."

For everyone in wine country, it's been a long winter.

“Spring really is just around the corner,” said Kaufmann. “This news really is just the most heartwarming news for us.”

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