Inner Sanctum Cellars, a winery with a tasting room in Jamestown and event venue in Columbia, cancelled an event scheduled for Saturday and refunded ticket holders following a recent local spike in COVID-19 cases and calls from the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors for people to avoid large gatherings.
Co-owner Karen Mariano-Luckhardt said they wrestled with whether to cancel their eighth annual “Tempranillo Tacos and Taps” event at their Columbia venue as positive cases increased throughout the week, but pulled the plug Saturday morning after seeing the board’s announcement.
“My position from the beginning is the almighty dollar does not take priority over people’s safety and health,” she said.
The tickets to the event were $45 each and limited to 100 people in order to keep enough space at the venue for people to physically distance. They hold the event each year to celebrate their new tempranillo, because they are known for the specific variety of wine.
Mariano-Luckhardt said they called all 100 ticket holders Saturday morning and told them their money would be refunded.
“It’s a hit for us financially, but we feel it’s the right thing to do for our community,” she said. “We even had one couple say, ‘Please keep our money, this is how we’re supporting small businesses,’ and it made me cry.”
The couple opened the event venue in February 2019 at what was previously the Columbia Nursery off Parrotts Ferry Road.
Mariano-Luckhardt said they are also hosting weddings at the venue and had to cancel four that were previously scheduled to take place in May before the pandemic hit, but all of the couples have agreed to postpone until 2021.
“We worked with them and told them we will make their experience even better because of this,” she said.
The venue has taken additional precautions since being allowed to reopen that includes having all employees wear masks.
Mariano-Luckhardt said they also have a greeter at the door who instructs people to wash their hands at a handwashing station located in the entrance and assigns them a place at the bar that they have spaced out to maintain physical distancing.
“We closed, we laid off all our employees, we reopened, and all of the rules changed every three weeks, so we literally reinvented how we were selling wine every three weeks,” she said. “I personally am immuno-compromised, so I have to take this seriously, but my customers are my utmost priority.”
Contact Alex MacLean at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 768-5175.