New Mexico winemaker may shut down for good amid COVID-19 pandemic | KOB 4

New Mexico winemaker may shut down for good amid COVID-19 pandemic

Faith Egbuonu
Created: June 22, 2020 06:22 PM

TULAROSA, N.M. - Tularosa Vineyards, a family-owned winery of 30 years in southeast New Mexico, worries they could possibly shut down their doors for good amid COVID-19.

“We have to close our doors,” said Tularosa Vineyards winemaker, Chris Wickham. “We may have to close our doors.”

“It’s hurt our business a lot. Our taste room sales are down 50 percent. If the tasting restrictions continue, we will not be able to operate any longer. As a winery, you have to be able to sample wines in order for people to know they really love their product and the sampling  of wine is number one key and way to get it to people’s mouths and into their pocketbooks and take it home, so they can enjoy it,” Wickham said.

There is no word if wineries will be given the green light per the state’s public health orders, but Wickham hopes the state can reconsider with safety guidelines put in placethe same as breweries.

“I just want solutions to our problems,” he said. “I feel we’ve been overlooked as a wine industry, even though there may be less wineries than they are breweries and the breweries get a lot of attention, I’m not jealous of that fact—but, the wine industry is a lot harder business to be in. You have to grow grapes, you have to farm grapes, you have to prune grapes, you have to net grapes, you have to pick the grapes, then you have to plan almost a whole year ahead of time.”

Wickham said he would like to put their outdoor redwood deck to use if given the green light by the state.

“The 50 percent capacity will allow us to finally get our product out to people’s mouth, and because we’re a 10 acre vineyard and winery,” he said. “We can easily allow people to have picnic tables and enjoy the wine on the picnic table. We’ll be glad to run the wine out to them and of course sanitize the glasses and glassware, which is part of a normal operation of a winery.”

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