Airing between regular episodes of the VinePair Podcast, “Next Round” explores the ideas and innovations that are helping drinks businesses adapt in a time of unprecedented change. As the coronavirus crisis continues and new challenges arise, VP Pro is in your corner, supporting the drinks community for all the rounds to come. If you have a story or perspective to share, email us at [email protected]

In this “Next Round,” VinePair CEO Adam Teeter interviews Matt Crafton, winemaker at iconic Napa winery Chateau Montelena, renowned for its celebrated success in the 1976 Judgement of Paris. During this high-profile blind tasting, Chateau Montelena won in the Chardonnay category, ranking above all other participating French and California wineries. In 2019, VinePair named its 2016 Chardonnay the best wine in the country.

In the discussion, Crafton covers the unique degrees of planning and restructuring that Chateau Montelena has needed for reopening. Unlike younger wineries that are required to operate under “by-appointment-only” systems, Chateau Montelena has always been open to the public and not constrained by limited reservation rules. Now, in accordance with safety measures and proper social distancing, the winery requires prior reservations for the first time in order to appropriately plan and prepare ahead for guest visits.

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Under the new reopening restrictions, Crafton explains that Chateau Montelena is adapting well. Not only does the winery now take reservations, but it also requires hospitality staff to wear masks at all times, and requires guests to wear masks until seated in their respective tasting areas.

Crafton remains optimistic both for the upcoming wine harvest and for a recovering economy. He plans to forge ahead, cautiously gearing decisions toward customer safety and quality product.

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