You’re heeding Sonoma County health officials’ recent request that you stay home as much as possible, until the omicron variant slows its spread. But you still want wine, and you want it now — or at least in time for tonight’s dinner. What to do?
There are rescue “crus” out there for you, services and stores that have sharpened their skills at getting wine to people, pronto, since the pandemic hit nearly two years ago. Order and pay for wine online, then have the goods delivered to your door or your vehicle in the parking lot. No need to enter a store. Convenient and conscientious.
Some contact is necessary to complete a wine transaction, however, as alcohol handoffs from retailers can only happen with photo ID proof that the recipient is 21 or older. In some cases, a signature is required. (In the early, chaotic days of COVID-19, state regulators didn’t actively seek out selling-to-minors scofflaws, but the danger is real today that a business caught providing booze to minors will lose its alcohol sales license.)
Still, the contact is minimal when it comes to buying wine online and having it delivered or available for curbside pickup. Wear a mask and disinfect your hands before and after; the deliverer will do the same, making for a shopping experience that is safer than pushing a cart through aisles and standing in line at the register.
These retailers offer online ordering with delivery and/or curbside pickup. We’re not counting in-store pickup here — once through the doors, you might as well shop for wines yourself.
Sonoma’s Best Modern Mercantile
If you live in the town of Sonoma or visit there, you’re in luck. This store and deli has free delivery to addresses in the 95476 ZIP code, with a minimum six-bottle order. They offer free curbside pickup, too. Sonoma Valley and Carneros wines are plentiful — lots of love is given to Bedrock Wine Co., Bucklin and Mathis, among other producers. There are also some interesting French and Italian bottles, as well as California outliers such as Obsidian Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon from Lake County and Paul Lato Matinee Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County. All wines are selected by wine director Todd Jolly.
1190 E. Napa St., Sonoma, 707-996-7600, sonomas-best.com
Wilibees Wines & Spirits
The two Wilibees locations, in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, offer an expertly chosen range of wines, many from local producers whose wares aren’t in chain stores as they simply don’t make enough. The selection of small-batch whiskeys and craft beer stored in temperature-controlled coolers is also impressive. The Santa Rosa Wilibees has a high-end deli and a wine-and-beer tasting bar. Those not ready to venture inside can order online or by phone, then arrange for curbside pickup.
700 Third St., Santa Rosa, 707-978-3779, wilibees.com
309 Lakeville St., Petaluma, 707-762-2042, wilibees.com
All too often, wine buffs find very little excitement when perusing the shelves at chain supermarkets. The big stores carry mostly the same, or similar, wines, supplied by mega wine companies. Yet living in Wine Country has its perks and most of Safeway’s Sonoma County stores have sections devoted to Sonoma and Napa wines, alongside the bag-in-box Franzia Chardonnay, the Barefoot Bubbly and the mass-produced Veuve Clicquot Champagne. Purchases of six or more bottles score a 30% discount.
Safeway has a confusing number of delivery and curbside pickup programs, with varying fees, digital coupons, promo codes and membership perks. Calculating the cost of a wine order from the website is difficult, given the many parameters, but $10 appears to be a typical delivery fee for orders of $30 or more. Exact fees are displayed when the order is placed and take into consideration the value of the order, requested delivery time and distance between the store and destination. In Safeway’s “drive up and go” service, online purchases are delivered by a store employee to your vehicle, which you park in a designated space.
Whole Foods Market
For years, Amazon tried to figure out how to sell, ship and deliver wine to consumers across the country. Thwarted by different alcohol beverage regulations across the states — California is a snap compared to New York and Pennsylvania — the company now routes online wine orders and delivery through its Whole Foods stores in states that allow it. Many of the usual suspects are available — the ubiquitous Kim Crawford New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Kendall-Jackson Vintners Reserve Chardonnay and multi-varietal maker Josh Cellars, for example. But there are also many Sonoma-made gems, among them Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Siduri Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Carol Shelton Wild Thing Mendocino County Zinfandel and Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a $9.95 charge for local delivery, which can happen as quickly as two hours. Visit each store’s website and click on wine; from there, the transaction is directed to amazon.com.
1181 Yulupa Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-575-7915 wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/santarosa
390 Coddingtown Mall, Santa Rosa, 707-542-7411, wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/coddingtown
6910 McKinley St., Sebastopol, 707-829-9801, wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/sebastopol
621 E. Washington St., Petaluma, 707-762-9352, wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/petaluma
201 W. Napa St., Sonoma, 707-938-8500, wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/sonoma
In a pinch — Instacart
This app-driven grocery delivery business serves many Sonoma County wine retailers, among them BevMo, Costco, Glen Ellen Village Market, Lucky, Raley’s and Safeway (which also has its own service). Order wines on Instacart (instacart.com/store/hub/alcohol) by typing in your ZIP code to view nearby businesses and their wine offerings. A gig personal shopper will pick up the bottles and deliver them to the designated address. Contactless delivery is advertised for groceries but is not available for wine. Fees and delivery times vary wildly, depending on Instacart memberships, peak pricing, distanced traveled by the shopper and more.
Bottle prices, shopping/delivery fees and timing of delivery can be tricky to predict with Instacart wine ordering, but it just might work in a pinch.
Ordering from the winery
At the start of the pandemic, when tasting rooms were closed by state order, some wineries offered their own delivery services to keep the revenue flowing and people employed. If you’re keen on buying wines directly from particular producers without leaving the house, call the tasting rooms to inquire about delivery or pickup possibilities. This service might not appear on websites, but you just might get lucky.