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September 7th, 2020

Greetings from the Wine Cellar:

Over the last several weeks, many Wine Cellar customers (or maybe I should say “would-be” customers who wanted to taste some wine or just buy a glass to enjoy) have asked if I have any idea when the Arizona state government would allow me to begin serving wine again.  Of late I have heard several times, “hey, bars up in Phoenix are now opening up again; why can’t you start serving wine here in Yuma?

Just to give a very brief review, on June 29th, Governor Ducey issued an executive order mandating the immediate shutdown of all bars, gyms, movie theaters and water parks in the state. That order expired in August, and some of those businesses were allowed to reopen due to Arizona’s improving coronavirus data.  But the order required that all bars with either Series 6 liquor licenses (full liquor sales) or Series 7 licenses (wine and beer sales only) must remain closed.  The only exception would be for those bars which offered a dine-in food option whereby a substantial part of their revenue was derived from food sales; they would be allowed to re-open if proper COVID-19 mitigation were implemented and followed.  

The Old Town Wine Cellar is a Series 7 license, and of course has no dine-in food service, so we remain unable to serve wine or beer.  As I explained in a previous Newsletter, our only course for resuming serving wine is for Yuma County to achieve a significant reduction in COVID-19 cases, as measured by several benchmarks.  To date, Yuma County is still determined to have a “Substantial” level of cases as measured by those benchmarks; therefore the Wine Cellar and all other bars in the county must remain closed.  

However, there have been some interesting recent developments:  A month or so back, more than 100 Arizona bar owners joined together and sued the state, alleging that the fact the state has allowed more than 5,000 bars in restaurants, hotels and clubs to re-open while requiring that all others must remain closed, even if they fully implemented required mitigation procedures, was discriminatory and unconstitutional under state law.  The case was heard in Maricopa County Superior Court last Friday, and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a motion siding with the plaintiffs.  He stated, “Nearly six months into the declared emergency, it is long past time for the governor to follow the constitution and convene the legislature rather than contravene lawful statutes through executive fiat; and because the governor’s orders must be consistent with the constitution, the legislature did not confer the power to issue orders that are arbitrary, unreasonable and discriminatory.

After more than 80 minutes of arguments last Friday, Superior Court Judge Pamela Gates stated that she recognized the Plaintiffs’ concern that the longer the closure is in place the more likely some bar owners will suffer “irreparable economic harm.”  However, Judge Gates said the court could not issue a ruling that day because the printed pleadings filed in the 24 hours prior to the hearing stood more than one foot high. She said she will need time to read those filings and review the various arguments put forth in the case, therefore a ruling will not be issued until Tuesday of this week at the earliest.  She stated, “I understand the seriousness of the arguments presented to the Court and the need for the Court to be deliberate in its decision and fair and just and complete in its decision.

So there you have it.  Way-too long Newsletter; sorry about that.  If there are any positive developments this week, I will definitely let everyone know in next week’s email.  So keep your fingers crossed, and hopefully we will get some good news before too long, of which we have had way too little this year!   


Arrowood 2017 Sonoma Estates Cabernet Sauvignon    $24.99
Arrowood’s Sonoma Estates Cabernet combines fruit from vineyards in Sonoma Valley, Knights Valley and Alexander Valley.  Knights Valley grapes provide structure and power.  Sonoma Valley fruit contributes ripe dark fruit flavors and rich texture, while Alexander Valley lends a fine complexity.

Valdo Cuvée 1926 Prosecco (Valdobbiadene, Italy)    $22.99
Valdo is the oldest Prosecco producer in the Valdobbiadene region, founded in 1926.  Pale yellow in hue with golden highlights, Cuvée 1926 exhibits a fine, lasting perlage.  Flavors of ripe apple, peach and tropical fruits are nicely rich but balanced by a keen, fresh acidity, with a crisp finish.

Concannon Vineyards 2016 Petite Sirah (Livermore Valley)    $14.99
Concannon was the first winery to release Petite Sirah as a standalone varietal wine in 1961.  The 2016 vintage exudes the varietal’s classic blackberry and blueberry aromas, and follows with a rich, dense palate packed with flavors of ripe black plums, currants and wild berries.  A fine-knit tannic structure makes this a superb match with just about any hearty meal.


Mike Shelhamer
Old Town Wine Cellar
265 S. Main Street, Suite E
Yuma, Arizona  85364

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