Canceling large events, limiting guests to online ordering and curbside pickup was an unwelcome reality for Mike and Ann Tessneer, owners of North Folk Winery in Harris, for the past few months. With restrictions loosened on June 2, the couple was excited to welcome guests back on site.

“North Folk Winery is able to allow indoor seating at 50% its capacity and outdoor seating for up to 250 people at a time based on Gov. Walz’s executive order issued June 2,” Ann said. “This order loosened the rules for restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Prior to the June 2 order we were only allowed to sell to customers curb-side, which really slowed down business for us, just at the beginning of our busy time of the year,” Ann added.

With the “new normal” set forth by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, the Tessneers made a few adjustments and were able to reopen to the public again.

“It is unfortunately the new normal for us and similar businesses, but we are grateful for our loyal customers and for all who have visited the winery for the first time,” Ann said. “It was also a joy to see family and friends come together after being isolated at home for so long.

“Our winery, like most wineries in Minnesota, is a very safe place for people to socialize with friends and family. We have spacious grounds that allow for us to position seating so that guests are at least 6 feet apart and still have ample space for 250 people to visit at any one time. Groups are limited to four people, and six people if family. We are vigilant in our sanitation practices and our staff wear masks and gloves at all times,” Ann added.

While some of the larger events previously planned at the winery had to be rescheduled, the more local events, as well as new events, will continue throughout the rest of summer.

“We’ve had to cancel large events including the concert booked with Pert Near Sandstone and our annual bluegrass festival, but we still have live and local entertainment every Friday night,” Mike said. “Our brick oven pizza continues to be popular, and people are so very grateful to have an opportunity to catch up with friends and family.

“One customer commented that we seem to be a ‘place untouched by the outside world.’ We’re really glad we can offer that experience. People are starved for normal social interaction and they can experience that when they visit the winery. We just look forward to the time when the ‘new normal’ is just an old cliche,” Mike added.

For more information or to see a schedule of upcoming events, visit North Folk Winery on Facebook or www.northfolkwinery.com.

The winery is located at 43150 Blackhawk Road in Harris and is open every Friday from 3 to 8 p.m., Saturdays noon to 8 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

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