Wineries, breweries and distilleries on the Niagara Wine Trail are getting creative to serve their customers.
One is making and giving away free hand sanitizer made from alcohol. Many are offering delivery or curbside pickup and a couple have gone online to share tastings, pairings and conversation with customers.
At Niagara Craft Spirits in Lockport, the owners were creating hand sanitizer to give away to anyone who stops in.
Todd Snyder and his partner, Joe Nardecchia, of Niagara Craft Spirits, are asking for the help of local wineries in making the free hand sanitizers.
"We're contacting local wineries to acquire wine they'd like to donate for the purpose of turning it into hand sanitizer. We're trying to meet the needs of anyone trying to get it lately who has not been able to," Snyder said.
The distillery, which makes the world health organization's recipe, which is online, calls for 80 percent pure ethanol, mixed with glycerine and hydrogen peroxide.
The distillers, who make small batches of bourbon, whiskey, gin and more, all made from local ingredients, are hoping local vineyards will help by sharing wine that hasn't turned out as well as expected, that might be donated to cause and turned into hand sanitizer that would also be given away free at participating vineyards.
Wineries who are assisting thus far are Longcliff Winery in Sanborn, Freedom Run Winery in Lockport, Midnight Run Wine Cellars in Ransomville and A Gust of Sun Winery in Ransomville. More wineries are being sought for the effort.
On a more whimsical note, A Gust of Sun Winery is doing a twice-a-week virtual tastings on Facebook.
Shane Gustafson, president of the Niagara Wine Trail, and two of her staffers at her Ransomville winery, are holding online tastings on the A Gust of Son's Facebook page, at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and 5 p.m. on Fridays.
Tuesday they started their show with a toast of Bourbon Creme from Black Button Distilling, paired with mint Girl Scout Cookies, both of which are available in the vineyard's tasting room. Then they moved on to tasting wines from the vineyard and chatting about local businesses including Ashley's Culinary Creations in Lockport,
The ladies, keeping a careful three-foot social distance apart, sipped wines and nibbled cookies and chatted happily with Facebook friends, brightening the day for all involved.
"We wanted to keep our customers and staff connected," said Tasting Room Manager Stephanie Kneeppel who along with Jaime Quarantillo, a tasting room associate, are delivering bottles of wine, cans of locally brewed beer, Girl Scout Cookies and chocolates from Apple of My Eye chocolatiers throughout the region. The winery also has drive-up purchase available.
At Black Willow Winery in Burt, Cynthia West-Chamberlain, the owner, also offers drive up wine purchases and will pair cheese and chocolate to go along with a variety of foods.
West-Chamberlain has also gone online. "I’m doing some food pairings online," she said of her Facebook page.
Her tasting room store offers a variety of wines, chocolates, Amish cheeses, popcorn, meats, and 22 different artisan oils and vinegars made at the vineyard, along with a variety of olives and jams.
"We can have everything ready so there’s minimal contact," she said, "and we do delivery within reason."
At Bella Rose Vineyard in Lewiston, owner Michael Schweitzer said that customers are welcome to drive up and he will deliver to the car. He said he plans to stay open because there are plenty of things to keep him busy at his seven-year-old vineyard, which opened for business this year and which has been producing about 1,000 cases a year at 1243 Ridge Road, a little over a mile from the Village of Lewiston.
"It is interesting," he said on Saturday. "Yesterday I had maybe two people all day. Today, since one o'clock, I've had four or five people."
Schweitzer said he has a portable credit card machine so customers don't have to get out of their cars.
"I've got a little drive through thing set up," he said.
He's selling his nine varieties of wine along with a variety of local beer from Riverworks and the Brickyard.
Most wineries are doing the same, according to Cate Banks, a spokesperson for the Niagara Wine Trail.
"Most wineries are open, offering pickup and even delivery of bottles and cases," she said.
"Vineyards are being pruned. That doesn't stop. Some some wineries are using this time for regular deep spring cleaning and planning what can come next," she said.
For a complete list of local wineries and their locations and phone numbers, visit online at niagarawinetrail.org.