Leigh’s Garden Winery adapts to keep doors open during pandemic

The winery was closed for nearly a year because of the pandemic, and saving the business meant they needed to make a change.
Leigh's Winery adapts to COVID-19 pandemic
Published: Apr. 18, 2021 at 8:41 PM EDT
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ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - After not knowing if they’d make it through the pandemic, Leigh’s Garden Winery in Escanaba is open and looking forward to a new year.

“Last year, when the pandemic first started, I was to the point that I actually thought that we weren’t going to be able to stay open – that I would lose the business,” Leigh’s Garden Winery Owner and Winemaker, Leigh Schmidt, said.

The winery was closed for nearly a year because of the pandemic, and saving his business meant they needed to adapt – which meant offering online sales and curbside pickup.

“When that started that really saved us through the pandemic. As a matter of fact, April, May, June, July, and August, our sales were relatively close to normal,” said Schmidt.

And despite losing the ability to host wine tastings, he said they started the new year on a good note. The online sales helped to cover what was needed to continue.

“It paid for our grapes, it paid for our bottling, all of our production costs, and our staff.”

Now, with the current 50 percent capacity limit, patrons can come in for a glass of wine and tastings, and to reintroduce everyone back in, the winery hosted a Spring Reopening just over a week ago on April 9, which Schmidt said was successful.

“I don’t know where the people came from. It was like the good ole days.”

But making up for last year’s lost revenue isn’t over. The winery is offering all-new handcrafted chocolate bon-bons filled with its specialty wine, as well as chocolate covered strawberries for Mother’s Day.

And Schmidt says the future is promising.

For those who supported the winery, Schmidt said he is more than thankful for the community.

“Without your support, I know I would have locked the doors and I would have been out of business and lost the building and so on.”

Leigh’s is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 7 P.M. and Sunday’s from noon to 4 P.M. and is currently taking pre-orders for the Mother’s Day chocolates.

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