Winery anxious to serve indoors as temperatures rise, Madera Co. could reach orange tier

Jessica Harrington Image
Tuesday, May 4, 2021
Local winery anxious to serve indoors as temperatures rise
In order to qualify for the orange tier, counties must have fewer than 6 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Shayne Vetter is the winemaker at Toca Madera Winery.

The business has had to adapt multiple times throughout the pandemic to stay afloat.

"It's just a difficult situation but you know, it's made us crafty and made us think on the spot come up with new innovative ideas that we never would've thought of without it," said Vetter.

Because Madera County is still in the red tier, wineries can only serve outdoors.

It's worked so far with fans and misters to keep customers cool, but as the triple digit heat approaches, Vetter is concerned that may not be enough.

"By the time we hit July or something like that, it's pretty tough to get people to want to come sit on a patio when it's a hundred and something outside." Vetter said.

In order to qualify for the orange tier, counties must have fewer than 6 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people.

Merced County's case rate has increased from 8 last week to 8.9 this week.

Madera County, on the other hand, is trending down. It dropped from 6.3 last week to 4.9.

"We're really excited in Madera County because we have the first of our two weeks of orange tier data, so hopefully on May 11, next Tuesday, we'll be able to move into the orange tier," said Health Director Sara Bosse with Madera County Public Health Department.

Health officials believe the temporary rise in cases late last month was related to a few outbreaks that have now been contained.

Health officials say testing went up last week compared to a couple weeks ago, helping the county to improve.

Still, health officials say people shouldn't relax just yet.

"With variants in the community, the California variant is more contagious, so people do need to be vigilant in following all the procedures and guidelines that we know very well." Bosse said.

Back at the winery, Vetter says while they wait for a tier change, they'll continue to do what they can to keep their customers happy and their doors open.

"We're just trying to enjoy what's happening right now and thrive off the situation that's happening and create you know a good experience for everybody who is coming out, because people are excited to be out here, and we're excited to have them," said Vetter.

The Toca Madera Winery is open Saturday and Sunday Noon - 5 p.m. and reservations are encouraged.