Many of the wineries in the Finger Lakes have been forced to make some changes during the pandemic to their tasting experience.

"Almost everybody has changed their pricing structure, you really almost had to," said Gene Pierce, Glenora Wine Cellars owner.

What You Need To Know

  • Wineries have raised the price of wine tastings over the last year

  • The change was partially due to capacity limits, the addition of food, and the sit down personal experience

  • They're seeing a different variety of travelers since people aren't taking panes as frequently to travel

  • Buttonwood Grove added fire cauldrons and outdoor heaters to expand their outdoor seating into the winter months

Over the last year, you may have noticed sampling wines has gone up in price. That's partially due to restrictions on how many people can come in, and tasters have to be eating something.

"We like that interaction, it’s an actual experience of coming so now our tasting fee is $12 which includes five wines and the side food that's mandated by New York State and we've had great response to it," said Marcia Klue, with Buttonwood Grove Winery.

They're also seeing more people taking short road trips to the wineries. Pierce's business is on Seneca Lake, he says this past year was the first time they saw visitors from Brooklyn. Last year most visitors came from Buffalo, Rochester, and Pittsburgh.

"All those restrictions, even now in the wintertime more people might be going south or going to the Caribbean or traveling, they just can't do that now," said Pierce.

At Buttonwood Grove on Cayuga Lake, they're seeing lots of nearby travelers.

"A lot of locals that just can't travel, or won't travel. That are exploring what's in their own backyard," said Klue.

They're adapting by adding out door heaters and fire cauldrons to expand their seating outside even as snow falls.

"They want to be able to get out of their house, and do something, but they want to do it safely. So we'll have many customers out here on the deck this afternoon, even though it’s in the twenties," said Klue.

This past summer those on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail actually saw customers coming in at the same rate or even higher than regular years. At least four wineries on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail are closed for tastings, in part because of high case numbers. Tompkins County has seen 700 positives so far this month. Since March, they've had more than 2,000; making January's numbers alone 25% of their total cases.