The Messina Hof Winery harvest events are scheduled on weekends July 24 through mid-August with a COVID-19 protocol in effect. (Messina Hof Winery photo)
Safety and sanitization protocols will be in effect when Messina Hof Winery begins its harvest celebrations on July 24. (Messina Hof Winery photo)
The 2020 Messina Hof Winery harvest activities will look quite different from that of 2019 when social distancing and face masks were unimaginable. (Messina Hof Winery photo)
Families are welcome for the grape harvesting and stomping at Messina Hof Winery in Bryan. (Messina Hof photo)
Happy campers at Messina Hof Winery after the 2019 harvest grape stomp.
The German polkas and Italian ballads of Lou Monte will be ringing out over the vineyards of Messina Hof Winery in Bryan, Texas, during the coming weekends as guests join in picking and stomping grapes. But the scene will not be that of years past when 100 to 200 visitors would join the Bonarrigo family each day of the harvest celebrations.
COVID-19 has curtailed the scope of the harvest activities in a year that promises to be the best and biggest harvest in the winery’s 43 years. As Messina Hof Chief Administrative officer Karen Bonarrigo says, “The vineyard has no idea that there is a worldwide pandemic. It is chugging along beautifully.”
The Messina Hof harvest celebrations began small but in recent years have covered a month of weekends and included both the Bryan and the Fredericksburg wineries. This summer, only the Bryan winery will host harvest visitors.
“This year with COVID,” Bonarrigo tells PaperCity, “we are taking care of our staff and customers as much as humanly possible.”
That means reducing the number of reservations taken for the various activities. Scratch the traditional big vats for communal stomping as smaller bins of grapes will be provided for individuals. In other words, no I Love Lucy moments.
It also means wearing masks, hand sanitizing stations, limited-contact wine sales and dining, and daily sanitizing of venue spaces.
Happily, Bonarrigo notes, the vineyards are naturally spaced for social distancing. Teams will move in smaller groups through orientation, education and the other activities. Families will be grouped together, she says.
So the harvest celebration will continue with Lou Monte‘s tunes, a nod to Paul Bonarrigo’s Sicilian heritage, and the polkas an homage to the German lineage of Karen’s mother-in-law, drifting over the vineyards while guests in small groups fill their buckets with grapes.
Even with pandemic protocols in place, the harvest experience is hardly diminished and it offers a great escape from the travails of the city during this awkward time.
The events launch Friday, July 24, with the Moonlight Harvest beginning around 7 or 7:30 pm. Saturday, July 24, the Daytime Harvest will commence in the morning. Activities continue through the first three weekends in August and a full schedule of events can be found here.