Self-guided tours may be the new normal this winery season.
The Hounds of Erie Winery in Clear Creek has begun allowing self-guided tours on their property.
“We’re obviously in unchartered water time,” said Lara Sawaya-Norman, marketing coordinator at Hounds of Erie Winery. “We can’t predict what the wine season is going to look like, we knew that for sure by the end of March.”
The idea of the tour came originally to give people a space to walk their dogs after the trail systems and parks in Haldimand and Norfolk were closed as part of the social distancing measures.
“Because we’re a dog-friendly winery, we wanted to give people a safe space to bring their dog to exercise,” said Sawaya-Norman. She said they then thought of a way to make it beneficial to both humans and their canine friends.
After guests book their tour online they will receive a confirmation email that includes a link to a collection of videos that coordinate with each stop on the tour.
As guests walk through the winery they will come across numbered stops. Upon arriving at these stops, they can play the corresponding video to learn about that part of the winery.
The video also includes a printable PDF map of the grounds, which can also just be viewed on a phone while visiting.
“We’re trying to make it so people don’t have to touch anything,” said Sawaya-Norman. “It’s as contactless as possible.”
The tours are child and dog-friendly. A group of four people and an unlimited number of dogs can use their hour on the grounds to explore the winery and enjoy time outside.
“It’s a very non-traditional winery experience.”
The tours only cost the gas to drive to Clear Creek and any alcohol purchased on arrival. Either Mat or Melissa Vaughan, owners of the winery, will be on-site to welcome the guests in a contactless manner.
“We just really want to provide a fun, safe place for people can confidently be outdoors and just enjoy some time away from home in a safe environment,” said Sawaya-Norman. “We really want to give them something that is just for them.”