This week, the staff at The Vineyard at Winery Valley received a letter from the California Department of Health. The letter explained that Winery Valley’s vineyard workers were being required to get a flu shot in order to continue working on the vineyard. In the original letter, Winery Valley’s President, Ken Bell, was asked to provide proof that each of its vineyard workers had received the flu shot. After some confusion, Bell provided a copy of a form that had been filled out by the vineyard workers.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends that all people get a flu shot, but the latest statistics show that the number of people who had their flu shots in the past year is decreasing. This is a trend that has been going on for several years, but the CDC says that it is still too early to jump to any conclusions. In order to keep up with the changing information about the flu, the CDC has created a new section that provides the latest flu shot data
This past January, Sangiovese Station opened for the first time in over ten years, after it was bought by the winery and reopened. In the meantime, the original staff of the winery, including Olivia, the winery’s production manager, were vaccinated. However, Olivia chose not to be vaccinated, because she is vegan and doesn’t agree with the vaccine’s ingredients.. Read more about best winery near me and let us know what you think.View
Laurie, the janitor.
Vaccination of key personnel was critical to operations during the pandemic
Across the country, grape growers and winemakers worked hard during the pandemic: pruning and harvesting grapes, pressing and bottling wine. The selflessness of workers during the COVID-19 outbreak reinforced the winery’s concern for the safety of unvaccinated workers.
With states like California focusing primarily on the population over 65, many communities in the Vineyard have developed independent plans to have vaccines administered as early as possible. For example, wine producers, grape growers and health care providers in Sonoma County have worked together to provide hundreds of COVID-19 vaccines since January. Within four months, 100% of key agricultural and production staff had been successfully vaccinated.
To encourage people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, says Michael Haney, executive director of Sonoma County Vintners, we have made more resources and informational messages available and produced a series of local radio spots and informational brochures. We also established damage control protocols, developed COVID-19 templates, and organized the distribution of food to the public.
Foley Family Wines also joined community partners for the inoculation. According to Courtney Foley, a second-generation vintner, we have been able to vaccinate more than 90 percent of our production and farm workers thanks to programs we have coordinated with the Sonoma County Vintners, the Sonoma County Medical Association and many others throughout the state.
As an employer, you want your workplace to be seen as a safe place.
King Estate Winery, located in the Willamette Valley, has made the bold decision to have all of its employees vaccinated. The winery sees its decision as an extension of its ethical approach to business, which begins with North America’s largest certified biodynamic vineyard and extends to sustainable winemaking practices and concern for employee safety.
As an employer, you want your workplace to be seen as a safe place, says Brent Stone, chief operating officer and winemaker at King Estate. Over the years, our approach has been to build a culture of safety and well-being for employees. Most staff knew we were supporting them and not punishing them, and the response was overwhelmingly positive.
The results were so positive that 92% of the company’s 70 employees were vaccinated and at least one neighboring wine company did the same. Local Tuality Healthcare ¡Salud! The service program helped wineries set up on-site vaccination clinics.
Vintners and vineyards have responded very strongly to the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, says Leda Garside, ¡Salud! Responsible for services and cultural relations. Many facilities have immunization clinics for employees and their family members who attend the clinics and immunization sites.
The decision to make vaccinations mandatory was not the first time the King family has taken steps to ensure the well-being of employees. In November, on the eve of the pandemic, they raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour. During the pandemic, they provided boxes of food to workers so they didn’t have to go grocery shopping. At the same time, this allowed the winery to support its regular suppliers by purchasing products while the restaurant was closed. They also harvest produce from their organic orchards and groves for APF staff.
It comes from the King family, says Brent Stone, the farm’s manager and winemaker. Ed King, our founder and CEO, is in the office every day and knows everyone’s name. The family felt there was something wrong with paying a man a salary he couldn’t live on. I think consistency in employment is very important, and it provided comfort during the madness of the pandemic.
Safety of staff and guests is paramount when operations resume
As wine counties move closer to full vaccination and the state’s reopening date approaches, wine producers are trying to quickly find workers to replenish the ranks that were decimated during the year of hiding.
The main obstacle to a smooth return to work is the lack of available labour, notes Foley. All of our production staff, front desk managers and customer service center staff have returned to work, and employees in traditional office positions are returning as child care responsibilities and other concerns decrease. We look forward to fully staffing our customer service centers. Much of this depends on rule changes at the state and regional level. Fortunately, we are all more comfortable than ever with virtual meetings and will continue to use them until government regulators tighten the pencil in their expectations of employers.
The main obstacle to a smooth return to work is the lack of available labour.
This means that wineries must decide whether to require masks or proof of inoculation.
In Virginia, Potomac Point Winery has decided to require proof of inoculation or require visitors to wear a mask before entering the tasting room. When they published this guide online, they immediately received negative feedback on social media.
Company owner Skip Cousy told a local reporter: We didn’t expect that people would not want to show their paperwork or think it was a HIPAA violation, which it is not. On its website, the winery states that this policy is not a political position and is consistent with CDC and state guidelines, and affirms its commitment to employee and customer safety.
In California, businesses are not required to ask for proof of vaccination. As Haney notes, vaccination requirements vary from farm to farm. We are not aware of any wineries in Sonoma County that require vaccination.
We do not require our employees to be vaccinated, nor do we ask for proof of vaccination from our employees or guests, Foley says. Until supervisors and state officials take a clear position on masks and other protocols, we ask that all employees working together follow the protocols prescribed by the state and county: Wear masks, keep your distance, perform temperature and health checks when entering the facility, and wash your hands more often.
Learning positive lessons from the pandemic
The experience of the pandemic has provided a number of positive aspects that the wine producers wish to adopt in the future. The wine sector is one where sales have held up well despite the pandemic and where online and direct-to-consumer sales have increased as wine producers try to make up for sales lost due to the closure of tasting rooms and tourism. Many wineries will continue to benefit from access to a wider and younger audience through the growing online marketplaces.
We tasted a lot of virtual wine! Foley exclaimed. They are particularly effective in corporate partnerships, where planners are looking for festive ways to reach many geographically dispersed people at a single event. We plan to continue our virtual events in the future.
Once the logistics of vaccination and masks are sorted out, staffing problems resolved and the influx of tourists increases, wine producers will breathe a sigh of relief and resume business as usual.
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