|There are a lot of happy sighs of relief going on in the valley today. Passport Weekend, the mega fun, mega crowded, mega lots of work annual event put on by all the wineries in the Dry Creek Valley is finally over. More personalized than March's Barrel Tasting weekend (with Passport, each winery selects a different theme and guests get their passport stamped as they go from winery to winery), Passport Weekend has evolved into one of the most successful regional wine events around. It has become so popular that attendees receive their $120 tickets from a random lottery drawing by the Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley every year.|
Since most wineries incorporate food into their overall event scheme, food and food service have become the latest things to be highly monitored in the wine industry. Don't get me wrong. We've always been required to have the proper permits to legally prepare and serve food. You know, proper equipment, sanitary food handling requirements, properly trained staff that sort of thing. But now, the Health Department is cracking down big time to make sure that everybody is working within the exact boundaries of their permits. And this is adding a whole new layer of anxiety and complexity to the business of running a winery.
There was a lot of last minute scrambling Friday as wineries hustled to get the right paperwork submitted. Health Department officials were quite helpful, pointing out areas of improvement and concern. Happily, all went well and as far as I know, Passport Weekend was a healthy and safe success for everyone. But going forward, I suspect many wineries may have trouble interpreting the increasingly stringent regulations of this aspect of our industry.
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