A major part of the Finger Lakes region's economy is the wine industry. As parts of the area’s economy are set to reopen Friday, many wineries are figuring out what reopening will eventually look like.

At Three Brothers Wineries and Estates in Geneva, the setup is unique. There are several tasting rooms, with different themes. There is a brewery on the 50-acre site. Visitors can buy wine slashes and get food to go.

What You Need To Know

  • Many Finger Lakes wineries are figuring out how their businesses will run after reopening.
  • Curbside pickups and deliveries have allowed many to stay in business, but the economic impact has been felt.
  • Three Brothers Wineries and Estates expects small, socially distanced crowds for wine tastings upon reopening

Shut down since mid-March due to coronavirus, when this winery reopens — it will look much different.

“Wine tasting, by its very nature is being very intimate,” said Dave Mansfield, owning partner. “And, you know that's not happening right now.”

Mansfield says the impact of the shutdown has been “severe.” In good times, Three Brothers employs 140 full and part-time workers. Many of them were laid off in mid-March. The ability to sell product through curbside pickup and online ordering has been a saving grace, he said.

“We're looking at it as a challenge,” said Erica Paolicelli, another owning partner and president of the New York Wine Industry Alliance. “But we're not looking at it in a negative light. We're looking at how can we make it better.”

Paolicelli says optimism isn’t really in her nature. But in these times it has to be, even considering the confusion over when Finger Lakes wineries will be able to reopen. 

“The picture is not clear,” she said. “I would say everyone is trying to figure it out. I think everyone has the best intention.”

Based on industry recommendations through groups like Finger Lakes Wine Alliance and New York State Wine and Grape Foundation, when wineries do reopen — possibly in mid-June — it’s going to look a lot different.

“So we're right now writing those procedures,” said Paolicelli. “Every winery around the lake is doing that.”

Paolicelli says wine tastings, in the short term, will be reservation only. On Three Brothers 50-acre winery, visitors will be spread out into small, socially-distanced groups of no more than six.

“Any experience is not going to be with crowds,” said Mansfield. “There isn't going to be the crowds that there used to be, but that doesn't mean it's not very exciting. And we're really actually looking forward to kind of reimagining this place in a much more intimate setting.”

For many wineries, curbside pickup during the shutdown has allowed them to sell wine and other products. Three Brothers is ramping up its ability to do drive-through delivery of wine, beer, and food to go.

“The only thing you can't do is get out of your car,” said Mansfield.

As with all businesses, there is fear that some wineries won’t make it through these times. Those who do — will have to adapt.

“You can find beauty in this whole situation,” said Paolicelli. “There's a silver lining, and that's what gets us through, day-to-day."