Newsom’s winery remains open while other California wineries ordered to shut down over COVID

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Wineries and other businesses in 19 California counties have been ordered to shut down or restrict indoor operations to the public under new COVID-19 restrictions issued by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, but his winery isn’t one of them.

According to Fox26, Newsom’s revised order, issued Wednesday, impacts Fresno, Kern, Kings, Merced, and Tulare countries in the Central Valley, home to several wineries including Preamble Wine Co., makers of We The People Wine, the first brand strictly for conservatives.

Businesses affected by the revised order include restaurants and bars, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, zoos, museums, family entertainment venues, cardrooms, and others.

Each of them are permitted to remain open to outdoor seating and dining only, but must close to indoor traffic. However, “Newsom’s winery and tasting room in Napa Valley remained open as of the July 1, 2020, order,” Fox26 reports.

Newsom’s winery is located in Madera County, which is exempt from his order.

The winery, located in Napa Valley’s Oakville, is owned by the Plumpjack Group, in which Newsom retains stock. According to the Democratic governor’s 2018 tax filings, he and his wife own shares in the conglomerate, which earned them $600,000 in income that year, Fox26 noted.

Newsom angered Californians in July when he ordered closures of businesses and beaches ahead of the July 4th celebration — even as the winery he has financial interests in remained unaffected — and asked residents not to gather to celebrate.

“I cannot say it enough; I said it last week, I said it yesterday and I’ll say it again. We’ve got Fourth of July weekend coming up. One of the areas of biggest concern relates to the spread of COVID-19 in this state remains family gatherings,” he said at the time.

“Not just bars. Not just being out in the streets where people are protesting and the like. It’s specifically family gatherings. Where family members or rather households — immediate and extended family members — begin to mix and take down their guard,” he added.

He also said that churches should go largely silent and “strongly consider discontinuing singing, group recitation, and other practices and performances.”

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“Just because someone’s not going to tap you and issue a citation, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do the right thing,” he added. “Wearing a face covering is a sign of toughness. It’s a sign of resolve. It’s a sign of someone who wants to give a damn.

Plumpjack Group, also raised eyebrows when KGO reported separately earlier this month that its businesses received millions on Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds as part of a COVID-19 economic relief measure Congress passed earlier this year.

Newsom reportedly put his interests in the group into a blind trust in 2018, meaning that technically, he would have no knowledge of, or role in, its business dealings, though issuing an order that allowed the winery to remain open would no doubt improve earnings.

One of the companies — Villa Encinal Partners Limited Partnership — is linked to the PlumpJack winery in Napa Valley, where San Francisco-based billionaire Gordon Getty is an investor. The company was able to secure a PPP loan for $918,720 on April 14, KGO reported.

Earlier this year, data released by the Small Business Administration indicated that the PlumpJack Group got as much as $350,000 in PPP loans. However, subsequent analysis by KGO found that Plumpjack businesses actually received nearly eight times that amount — or nearly $3 million, said the outlet.

As for We the People Wine, the company notes that it “is an American brand dedicated to Conservative values” including “American exceptionalism, free markets, religious freedom and limited government are what we stand for.”

It is also unique in that the company unabashedly proclaims support for conservative politics, candidates, and issues, noting that “a portion of the proceeds from each bottle sold will go directly towards supporting candidates and causes that reflect the values our community stands for.”

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Jon Dougherty

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