Horton Vineyards Responds to COVID-19
Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are closing their doors and employees are wondering what is next. In the “Capital of the Eastern Wine Belt,” Horton Vineyards takes steps to keep their doors open, employees provided for and the wine flowing.
“We're making sure that all the supplies are available for [our employees] so that they're safe and the customers feel safe,” Shannon Horton of Horton Vineyards shared in an interview with VPM last Saturday (3/14/20). “We went over proper handwashing and we’re following the precautions the government has decided that we need to do to keep safe.” Taking these precautions is essential as there is still plenty of work to be done on the vineyard.
“We still have a lot of things that we can do inside our cellar. We still have our winemaking process, our cleaning process, wine that needs to be labeled and bookwork that needs to be done,” said Horton. With so many needs that must be met, Horton Vineyards isn’t turning away employees but rather offering even more work. Horton said, “So as long as [none of our employees] are under quarantine by the government, we're allowing our staff to actually have extra hours.”
The choice to offer extra work at Horton Vineyards was made not only to increase productivity but to support part-time staff in a time where income is lean. “We have offered our part-time staff more hours especially because their other jobs have now closed temporarily,” said Horton. “In order for them to have the income they need, we have offered them more hours doing alternate work.” Alternate work includes hosting in the tasting room and maintaining its cleanliness.
The Horton Vineyards tasting room is currently open during normal hours, but only ten people are allowed in at a time and there is hand sanitizer on the counters and at the register. For customers who are unable to come into the shop Horton said they are working on a program where patrons can purchase wine online and pick it up at the vineyard. The staff will then bring the wine to the customer’s car.
While so much uncertainty looms, Horton hopes to “go with the flow” and keep up the good work. “Our workers are still here so we're still working down here.”