With bars and restaurants reopening in different phases, where does that leave wineries?

CAPE COD, Mass. — After a financially tough Spring, wineries may be well-positioned to make a comeback this Summer.

As many people continue to seek outdoor activities that fit within social distancing guidelines, some are already taking advantage of the relaxed, social atmosphere.

“I think it’s going to be a busy summer despite what we’ve been through,” said Frank Puzio, owner of First Crush Winery in Harwich.

Puzio, who makes his own wines from grapes harvested in the Napa region, told Boston 25 News on Saturday that he’s been busy since opening in Phase 2. The former eye doctor added that because he was closed for several months due to COVID-19, he now has a problem he didn’t see coming: he has a surplus of wine.

“When you’re a winery, you make all of your wine in the Fall. So all of our wine was produced in the volumes that we anticipated for the general public this year at that time. Obviously from when all of this started in the wintertime until just about now, sales have been very different than usual. So volumes are quite a bit higher,” he explained.

“The worry for wineries is that some of the wine has a half-life, and you want it to be consumed in an appropriate time period. Not the reds, the reds to better with age. But the whites we want in the first two years to be enjoyed.”

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For Puzio, opening this season was also a challenge. A winery is neither a bar nor a restaurant, so he said determining which reopening phase his business fell into was confusing.

“I don’t think they thought through the process of where a winery should fit. We’re certainly not a bar. When people come to visit us, they come to enjoy a tasting of our wines. And that’s in a limited way. It’s not sitting and drinking glasses of wine necessarily, although we do have a by the glass permit,” he said.

Puzio said that he had to secure a food permit from the town of Harwich in order to sell cheese and crackers, which would let him reopen alongside restaurants.

“The only difference between a winery that has a food permit and one that doesn’t is the fact that they can sell cheese and crackers to the public. I don’t think there’s a safety issue involved with something of that nature,” he said.

With the temporary permits expiring in mid-July, Puzio said he hopes he can continue to serve patrons. He added that he would like more clarity in guidelines for wineries moving forward.

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