Category: WWI News

On January 5th Governor Inslee announced Healthy Washington reopening plan

The Governor’s Healthy Washington reopening plan divides the state into eight regions and will go into effect January 11. All regions will begin in Phase 1, during which indoor service is still prohibited as outlined below.

Healthy Washington: Phase 1 and 2

Under these new phases, the following restrictions are in place for eating and drinking establishments:

Phase 1

  1. Indoor service prohibited.
  2. Outdoor service: 11pm close, maximum 6 per table, limit 2 households per table.

Phase 2

  1. Indoor service: 25% capacity, 11pm close.
  2. Food menu requirements for indoor seated lifted for wineries that allow minors on-premise (bars now defined as 21+ establishments with no food)
  3. Outdoor service: maximum 6 per table, limit 2 households per table.

See this chart for all of the restrictions in Phases 1 and 2.

We were successful in getting the Governor’s office to change how a “bar” is defined under this new reopening plan. Moving forward, wineries will belong to the “eating and drinking establishments” group that includes all food and drink industries except those that serve 21+ only and do not serve food.

Healthy Washington: Regions

The regions are mostly based on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) regions used for evaluating healthcare services. There will be eight regions of four or more counties, divided according to available health care services based on metrics such as hospitalizations, case data and disease mobility.


Each region will begin in Phase 1 and must meet the following metrics before moving to Phase 2:

  1. Decreasing trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population (decrease >10%)
  2. Decreasing trend in two-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population (decrease >10%)
  3. ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) of less than 90%
  4. COVID-19 test positivity rate of <10%

To remain in Phase 2, regions must meet at least 3 metrics:

  1. Decreasing or flat trend in two-week rate of COVID-19 cases per 100K population
  2. Decreasing or flat trend in two-week rate new COVID-19 hospital admission rates per 100K population
  3. ICU occupancy (total — COVID-19 and non-COVID-19) of less than 90%
  4. COVID-19 test positivity rate of <10%.

The metrics for each region will be updated every Friday. DOH will move eligible regions into a new phase the following Monday.

New Working Washington Small Business Grant Applications Are Live

The Washington State Department of Commerce is now accepting applications for $50 million in Working Washington Small Business grants. This is part of a committed $135 million in new COVID relief effort CARES Act funds announced by the Governor and meant for the most hard-hit industries including the hospitality industry. We have confirmed with the Department of Commerce that Washington wineries are eligible for these grants. Applications received before December 11 will get priority.

NOTE: Businesses that applied for the resiliency grant program will not need to take any action.

Application & Grant Criteria

Priority for grants will be given to:

Small businesses with annual revenues of $5 million or less in 2019.


  1. Businesses in the sectors that are most impacted by the recent public health measures as well as businesses in sectors that have experienced significant, cumulative impacts. Examples include full-service restaurants, fitness centers, bowling alleys and music and event venues.
  2. Certain nonprofits may also be eligible if they have a primary business activity that falls into a similar category as noted above. Example – a nonprofit full-service restaurant or nonprofit music venue.
  3. If Commerce is able to fund all the eligible applicants from the priority pool, and funds remain, we may be able to provide grants to additional businesses or nonprofits from other sectors or who have annual revenues larger than $5 million.
  4. The maximum award grant will be up to $20,000.
  5. The grant can only cover expenses or costs incurred due to COVID-19 and that were necessary to continue business operations.

How to Apply

  1. The online application portal is live now. The portal link can be found by clicking here. Additional information about eligibility and prioritization will also be posted there.
  2. Priority will be given to applications received by Dec. 10, 2020. If Commerce is able to fund all the applicants who submit by that time, we may be able to consider applicants who submit after the 10th.

Application Checklist

  1. Applicant W-9 Request for Taxpayer Identification Number
  2. Copy of valid government-issued photo I.D.
  3. For tribal-member owned businesses: license or certification if business activity is conducted outside the tribal jurisdiction; letter or certification from the tribe recognizing you as a business if business activity is within the tribal jurisdiction.
  4. Copy of 2019 Tax Return or other confirmation of Business Gross Revenues for 2019.
  5. For businesses with a physical location, evidence of that location, such as lease, tax statement, utility bill, etc.
  6. NAICS code or clear description of your primary business activity. A NAICS code is helpful, but not necessary. The winery NAICS code is 312130.

Assistance for Workers & Individuals

In addition to business relief, additional funds will be released for workers and individuals impacted by the pandemic, including:

  1. $20 million in rental assistance is added to the current Eviction Rent Assistance Program. Partner agencies in each county, not Commerce, provide the assistance payments to landlords to cover their qualified tenants. Note that coverage was expanded from 3 to 6 months of eligible rent. Find the list of appropriate contacts by county here.
  2. $15 million in utility payment assistance expands the existing Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), also administered through agency partners at the county level, not Commerce. Find information and contacts for each county here

WWI Message to the Legislature, FAQ’s, Contact Your Legislators and More Resources

Since March under the first shutdown, and all through the summer and fall you all have done an excellent job of stepping up to the challenge of a year full of pandemic ups-and-downs, following all the rules thrown at us to keep our employees and customers safe as you slowly reopened your doors. Many of you have even stepped up to support struggling nonprofits in your local communities, front line workers risking their safety and health while battling the virus, and our restaurant and hospitality workers and businesses through heartwarming and generous efforts of financial and marketing kindness. In a year that has thrown everything at us, I could not be prouder of the WA wine industry and every WWI member.

Now faced with a new shutdown of indoor service to hopefully stop the rapid spread of COVID in our communities, we are asked once again to do our part. This new set of closures not only for wineries, but for restaurants and all hospitality industries, is a huge blow for our own on-premise sales channels and the vitally important restaurant sales channel many WA wineries count on to stay open.

In response to the new indoor service closures for wineries, restaurants, and hospitality sector industries, we coordinated with our colleagues in these industries and this week sent a letter to the entire Washington State Legislature asking them for their help NOW and during the 2021 session. We are receiving positive responses from Legislators already, and we will continue to aggressively advocate for financial and operational relief as well as foundational ask of “do no harm” to the WA wine industry when you convene in January 2021. You can read the letter we sent here

Contact Your Legislators

We encourage every WWI member to contact their legislators and educate your Senator and two State House Representatives on what these new set of indoor service restrictions will mean for your winery and your wine crew, especially as we enter the holiday seasons. Here are some ideas on how to approach a message to your elected officials:

  1. Identify your name and your winery’s name
  2. Describe how these new restrictions are impacting your winery and wine crew including any difficult staffing and other decisions you are being forced to make.
  3. Include how you are pivoting to stay open or at a minimum continue to try and make wine sales during the new indoor service shutdown
  4. Ask for their support of your winery by supporting the asks the Washington Wine Institute is making to them now and will continue up-to-and-throughout the 2021 legislative session

You can find your state elected official contact information by going to the state district finder located here.

November 18 Indoor Service Temporary Closure Q&A

How long will this new set of restrictions last?

The restrictions are set in place for a minimum of four weeks, which is a 12/14/2020 date for the calendar. Whether the restrictions

What are my sales options under this new four week set of operating restrictions?

All the sales options you utilized during the first shutdown in March are available. To-go, curbside sales, and ?

Can I allow customers inside the tasting room to make purchases and pick up wine club or online purchases?

YES. A customer may enter your tasting room to purchase wine and/or pick up wine club or online purchased wine. If curbside sales are a reasonable option, we always recommend setting up as safe an experience as possible for a customer to purchase your wine. Overall please continue to go above and beyond in following proper social distancing guidelines and keep both employees and customers safe.

Can I allow customers using my outdoor service space access to my restrooms inside my winery?

Yes. If you are still operating on premise service via outdoor tents or other structures, your restrooms must be accessible as is required by our state and county food code rules.

What are the Outdoor dining guidelines for tents and other structures?

You can view the full guidance here.

The Washington State Wine Commission to create a thorough list of captured questions and answers from March-current and many of the questions you may be asking are likely answered in this Q&A. Please click here to view the most current Q&A list.

Adding or Extending Outdoor Service/Tenting Webinar:

You can find info on adding or extending outdoor service areas, here.

Last week, the WA Hospitality Association hosted a webinar on outdoor seating guidance and tenting. You can view the replay, here.

Unemployment FAQs for Employers and Employees:

WA unemployment resources for employers can be found here.

WA unemployment resources for employees can be found here.

Mental Health Resources:

This is a lot and we all may not take the time we need to focus on our own mental health and/or the mental health of our winery crew. Resources for crisis support and advice on self-care can be found here.

Hospitality Employee Relief Resources:

Information on grants and relief efforts for hospitality workers impacted by COVID-19, here

New WA Safe Start Guidelines for Wineries as of 10/6/20

Governor Inslee announced on Tuesday October 6th new guidance for Restaurants, Taverns, Breweries, Wineries and Distilleries under his Safe Start plan. Major updates include:

Indoor Service: It is no longer required for table mates to be from the same household. Wineries and tasting rooms are permitted to operate at a limited indoor capacity if they offer very basic food service, as outlined below. Indoor capacity is 50% for Phases 2 and 3, and 25% for Phase 1.5.

Outdoor Service: Outdoor service will continue to be allowed for wineries and other impacted businesses at 50% occupancy, with no food requirement. For outdoor seating, a temporary structure may be used. Outdoor structures (temporary or permanent) should have no more than two walls to provide appropriate ventilation. The limitation on walls applies to both rigid and flexible walls. We have included a link and description of options for expanding the outdoor space of your winery tasting room below.

Table occupancy: In Phase 2 the maximum table size is increased to six (6) individuals and in Phase 3 the maximum table size is increased to eight (8) individuals. We have asked for clarification for wineries in Phase 1.5. Standing is prohibited in any area of establishment, except for the lobby/waiting area and then must be done while maintaining 6 feet of distance between patrons.

Table spacing: There is a minor modification to table spacing rules for both indoor and outdoor seating. Tables must be spaced 6 feet away from adjacent tables, or there must be a physical barrier or wall separating booths or tables. Prior guidance required tables to be spaced 6 feet apart from occupied chair to occupied chair.

11 PM Closing Time: Winery tasting rooms and other impacted businesses will need to end alcohol service each evening by 11 PM. This was previously 10 PM.

Bar seating remains closed. This is defined as the area with a bar table/counter where patrons sit or stand side-by-side across where alcoholic drinks and refreshments are served. Counter-style seating is permitted in other areas of the establishment (indoors or outdoors). Six feet of distance is required between parties and other tables.

Governor Inslee announced that no counties will progress phases at this point.

All social distancing requirements must be met indoors and outdoors.

Updated Food Menu Guidance to Resume Indoor Service

In order to resume indoor dining, wineries must meet the following requirements:


  1. Offer no less than three menu items meeting the food types as required under the Safe Start guidelines (such as sandwiches, salad, soup, pizza, hamburgers, fry orders, or substantial hors d’oeuvres/appetizers)
  2. Obtain any required food service permit/license from their local jurisdiction
  3. Foods may be fresh, processed, pre-cooked, commercially pre-packaged and ready to eat, or frozen
  4. No additional handling or preparation is required beyond what is allowed under a brewery, winery, distillery, or tavern licensee’s local food handling permit
  5. Wineries, breweries, distilleries, and taverns may purchase items from a caterer, licensed food preparation/packaging operation (restaurant) for resale. Food must be purchased in advance and may not be sold on consignment
  6. Regardless of the food provided, breweries, wineries, distilleries, and taverns may only sell alcohol that they are licensed by LCB to sell
  7. If a winery, brewery, distillery, or tavern wants to become a Beer/Wine (BW) Restaurant or a Spirits/Beer/Wine (SBW) Restaurant before, during, or after Phase 4, they must submit an application to LCB to convert their license type and must meet the food requirements set forth at WAC 314-02-010(14) (BW Restaurant) or WAC 314-02-035 (SBW Restaurant)
  8. These food service requirements are in addition to the COVID-19 restaurant guidance and restrictions, and are set forth in efforts to allow limited non-restaurant liquor license businesses an opportunity to operate with indoor service during Phase 2 and 3 of the governor’s proclamation. The intent is to allow limited operations mitigating the risk of COVID-19 infection spread, by avoiding social gatherings and primarily social drinking outlets
  9. These food service requirement will be in place until phase 4 reopening of businesses, and may be modified in response to governor and public health guideline changes

You can find the full industry guidance here:

These guidelines do not require you to put in a kitchen or additional equipment, do not require the preparation of foods on-site, nor do they require that you obtain a beer/wine restaurant license. Additionally, customers are not required to purchase a food item.

Update for Wineries to Gov Inslee’s July 30th Safe Start Plan


Governor Inslee announced a very important update. Effective July 30, wineries and tasting rooms in most counties are permitted to operate at 50% indoor capacity if they offer food service. This does not require a restaurant license. You can find the updated guidance by clicking here.

This is an important change from last week’s decision to close down all indoor service at wineries and breweries that don’t have a restaurant license and recognizes what the Washington Wine Institute and our partners in other alcohol and hospitality industries have spent the past month pushing on the Governor’s office to give us parity with restaurants who are still allowed to operated indoors if they provide some type of food service. All social distancing requirements per Phase 2 Guidelines must be met indoors and outdoors. These updated guidelines do not impact outdoor service – there continues to be no requirement to provide food if you plan to remain operating only outdoors.

Food service is defined as the following:

  1. Provide a reasonable number of menu items such as: sandwiches, salad, soup, pizza, hamburgers, fry orders, or substantial hors d’oeuvres/appetizers.
  2. These menu items must be prepared onsite and may not be offered by a contractor.
  3. Obtain any required food service permit/license from your local jurisdiction. Your city/county food service permit may or may not allow for the service of the types of foods listed in the above requirements. If you are not sure what types of food your food service permit allows for, contact your local health department to ensure you have the appropriate permit.

Outdoor seating: For outdoor seating, a temporary structure may be used. Outdoor structures (temporary or permanent) should have no more than two walls to provide appropriate ventilation. The limitation on walls applies to both rigid and flexible walls.

You can find a description of options for expanding the outdoor space of your winery tasting room here.

Compliance document: The LCB is creating a a guidance document we hope to be able to share by next week for you to post in your business showing, if you choose to reopen indoors by meeting the requirements above, you are in compliance and operating legally.

We will be working with the Washington State Department of Health and the Liquor and Cannabis Board in the coming days to provide more information on menu and preparation requirements.

Bar seating remains closed. This is defined as the area with a bar table/counter where patrons sit or stand side-by-side across where alcoholic drinks and refreshments are served. Counter-style seating is permitted in other areas of the establishment (indoors or outdoors). Six feet of distance is required between parties and other tables.

Closing time: Winery tasting rooms and other impacted businesses will need to end all alcohol consumption each evening by 10 PM.

Close Any Vending or Game-like Activities: All vending or gaming-like activities outside of being seated and dining/drinking are not allowed.  Examples include pool, video games, and similar attractions that create high-traffic touch points.

For all current restrictions, Phase 2 Guidelines & Best Practices and a FAQ, see the resource page on our website.



The above indoor allowance does not apply to YakimaBenton & Franklin counties, but health departments in these counties have adjusted the modified Phase 1 restrictions to include tasting rooms. Beginning on Saturday, August 1, wineries and tasting rooms are permitted to be open outdoors only at 50% capacity. No indoor service is permitted.


  1. In Yakima County, only members of the same household may be seated together outside.
  2. In all other counties, customers may be seated outdoors with people from outside of their household.
  3. In counties where indoor seating is permitted with food service, only groups from the same household may be seated together.
  4. In all cases, there is a maximum of 5 people per table.



New WA State Safe Start Guidelines begin July 30th

Over the past several weeks, our state has seen a daily rise in COVID infection rates across almost all counties. As these numbers have climbed, our state leaders have taken action to curb the surge of the virus in Washington State. Governor Inslee, Secretary of Health John Weisman, and our state leaders believe that dramatically decreasing people’s desire to travel and otherwise leave their home except for essential services is the next step. Many industries are impacted by today’s decision in a negative way, including the WA wine industry. To this end, Governor Inslee today announced that effective July 30th, several major updates to his Safe Start plan will be implemented:


Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries, and Taverns Must Cease Indoor Service : These licensees will need to close down their indoor service. Employees are allowed indoors, but all guest service must take place outside. All to-go, curbside, and delivery sales privileges utilized by wineries remain in place. (For Yakima, Benton, and Franklin Counties currently in modified Phase 1, we do not yet know if these restrictions impact the tasting rooms not yet able to open. We will follow up with clarification as soon as we can.)


Outdoor Service Allowed at 50%: Outdoor service will continue to be allowed for wineries and other impacted businesses at 50% occupancy. We have included a link and description of options for expanding the outdoor space of your winery tasting room below.


10 PM Closing Time: Winery tasting rooms and other impacted businesses will need to close each evening by 10 PM.


Close Any Vending or Game-like ActivitiesAll vending or gaming-like activities outside of being seated and dining/drinking are not allowed.  Examples include pool, video games, and similar attractions that create high-traffic touch points.


Phases 2 and 3 Group Limits Are Now the Same: For Wineries, Breweries, Distilleries, and Taverns, Phase 2 and Phase 3 group limits are now identical, with a 5 ppl maximum allowance per group. For restaurant licensees (including any wineries with one of these licenses), the 5 ppl for indoor seating still allowed must be from the same house hold. For winery and other impacted licenses that are not restaurants, the outdoor groups of maximum 5 ppl do NOT need to be from the same house hold.

Governor Announces New Statewide Orders

Governor Announces New Statewide Orders on Masks, Phase 3 Changes to Bar Use, and a Pause on County Phase Changes

Many states and areas within states across the country have closed down bar area and indoor dining/drinking in response to the surge in COVID-19 infection rates over the past month. For Washington State, effective July 7, Governor Inslee has issued the following temporary changes to his WA Safe Start Plan:

Businesses Required to Enforce “No Mask, No Service” Rule

Beginning July 7th, businesses statewide are required to refuse service to any customers refusing to wear a face covering. This includes both indoor and outdoor service. Yakima County has previously been operating under this policy and Governor Inslee is now extending this requirement statewide.

There are limited exemptions to this order:

  1. Children under the age of two should not wear face coverings. Children ages three and four are encouraged, but not required to wear a face covering.
  2. Exemptions also include those with certain medical conditions who may be adversely impacted by wearing a facial covering.
  3. Customers may remove face coverings while seated (eating and drinking) or communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of hearing.

WA businesses are required to enforce the “No Mask, No Service” mandate. Our friends at the WA Hospitality Association have put together these helpful guidelines on how to encourage customers to mask up.

No Bar Area Use During Phase 3

Governor Inslee announced the temporary change to Phase 3 counties removing the allowance of up-to 25% bar-area use. Starting July 7, wineries in Phase 3 counties must close down any seating or similar use of the bar area.

The 75% indoor/outdoor capacity space use and parties of 10 or less for Phase 3 are not impacted under these changes to the WA Safe Start plan. Also, any business operating in a Phase 3 county must have a written safety plan.

County Phase Advancements on Hold:

Effective immediately, all applications for county phase advancements have been put on hold until July 16. Counties will remain in their current phase for at least the next two weeks. Here is the current list of counties, by phase.

Modified Phase 1: Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Yakima

Phase 2: Adams, Clallam, Clark, Cowlitz, Grant, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Walla Walla, Whatcom

Phase 3: Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Grays Harbor, Island, Kittitas, Lewis, Lincoln, Mason, Pacific, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Stevens, Thurston, Wahkiakum, Whitman

Phase 4: No Counties

As a reminder, we worked with WSU and our WA wine industry colleages to create the Phase 2 Requirements, Guidelines, Best Practices, and a useful Checklist.

If you have any questions on the Governor’s Safe Start Phased Reopening Plan, how it impacts your winery based on what Phase your county is in, or anything else please don’t hesitate to contact us at

2020 WWI Annual Membership Meeting

Thank you to all our members who were able to join us today, June 25th, in our first virtual membership meeting to learn what WWI has been up to this Spring and hear updates from our board member chairs. We also heard from expert panelist on topics that are affecting our wineries today.

We want to extend a huge “THANK YOU” to our webinar speakers including:

  1. Dr Byron Marlowe, Ph.D and MBA, The School of Hospitality Management, Washington State University
  2. Sara Bailey, CPA, Senior Manager  – Moss Adams
  3. Danielle Newhouse, CPA,  Manager  – Moss Adams
  4. Christina Kyriazi– VP of Marketing – Ekos Winemaker

We’ve put together a recording of the webinar as well as the resources and other documents used or referenced during the webinar.  Some have been added below:

WWI Annual Membership Meeting Webinar Link

WWI AMM Board Presentation 2020 Final

Experience Audit For Progressive Stage 2 an 3 Openings in Washington Tasting Rooms

Moss Adams Five Ways to Increase Cash Flow

Ekos Winemaker  – Marketing in the time of COVID

A special thank you to our top level sponsors of today’s webinar:



Governor Inslee announced three major updates to his Safe Start plan on June 5th

King County in Phase 1.5: As of  June 5, King County moved into “Phase 1.5,” which allows some Phase 2 activities to begin. For wineries, means: indoor seating and service is permitted at 25% of capacity, and outdoor seating and service is permitted at 50% of existing outdoor capacity. All other restrictions would remain in place. If you would like to add or extend outdoor service, see this notice from the WSLCB with full details.

14 Counties Change to a New Phase: Several counties moved into Phase 2.  If your winery is located in a county that has recently entered Phase 2, see below for information regarding specific requirements and guidelines.  

Face Coverings: A new requirement was announced that starting June 8, all employers in Washington must post signage at their place of business strongly encouraging customers to wear cloth facial coverings. There is no directive on exactly what sign needs to be used, but you can find good options herehere and here.

Phase 2 Requirements & Guidelines

Governor’s Phase 2 Reopening COVID-19 Requirements
The Governor’s office is asking every business to adopt a written procedure for dine-in service that is at least as strict as the Phase 2 requirements, as linked above. The businesses must ensure strict adherence to all measures established by the State of WashingtonDOH, DOL & L&I.

Phase 2 Reopening Guidelines, Best Practices, and Checklist
State leaders worked with Byron Marlowe, Professor of Hospitality Management at WSU, to put together a comprehensive list of guidelines and suggested best practices for wineries. 

  1. Washington Winery COVID 19 Reopening Requirements Guidelines and Best Practices.
  2. Washington Winery COVID 19 Supplement Response Operations Checklist.
  3. Washington Winery COVID 19 Supplement Response Posters.
  4. Voluntary Customer Log Template.

We worked with our industry partners to put together a FAQ with answers informed by state government officials. This will be updated regularly.

Phase 3: More to Come

Several counties moved into Phase 3 today. During this phase, on-premise activities may resume at 75% capacity and bar areas may open at 25% capacity.

We are working to provide additional context regarding Phase 3 and what it means for wineries, but in the meantime, Gov. Inslee released a template for business in Phase 3. Each business operating in Phase 3 must develop a written safety plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. A business may fill out the template to fulfill the requirement or may develop its own safety plan. 


This is an unprecedented time and we understand there are a lot of questions. Our goal is to streamline the collection of questions and capture them all in one place so that we can share your questions with the appropriate authorities and create a helpful FAQ for all wineries to utilize. We have created this simple form for you to submit your questions through, but always feel free to email us directly as well.

We will continue to work with our industry partners to provide updates and information to best support you as you reopen your tasting rooms. We look forward to raising a glass in-person soon, but know that we are here for you virtually in the meantime.

To our current Washington Wine Institute members, thank you for your investment in our work with your dues renewals. WWI can only exist and do all we can in these challenging times for our WA wineries through your membership dollars and active engagement in our political and regulatory work for the industry. If you are not yet a WA Wine Institute member, please consider joining and being a part of your statewide trade association for Washington wineries. Learn more about WWI, membership benefits, and more by clicking here