Eat, shop, stay, play locally | Sponsored column

It’s been six long and challenging months since Governor Inslee issued his stay at home order. Are you craving different surroundings and new experiences? Why not explore your own islands? Because, to paraphrase Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, when you go looking for your heart’s desire you often have to look no further than your own backyard.

This is the third in a series of stories to highlight how businesses on Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Island have creatively coped with COVID. The series is meant to encourage you to get to know and support them and all businesses in staying “San Juan Islands Strong.”

Doe Bay Wine Company Expands into an International Market During COVID-19

“When COVID first hit in March we panicked,” related owner Cole Sisson. “Our season is roughly three summer months and there’s not a lot of margin for error.

“While the shop was closed, we immediately started pushing sales and specials via social media. We built out our wine club, expanded our delivery options, and set up a weekly schedule to service the island while at the same time offering curbside pickup. Supreme hustle!”

In a creative move, they also set up a twice-weekly live Instagram session with winemakers around the world. Customers watch and interact with these personalities and then order through the shop to have wines delivered as soon as the next day. “This helped expand the presence and keep the lights on and we developed an international following,” Sisson stated.

In the meantime, they’ve also resumed tastings in their Eastsound shop and will resume live Instagram sessions during the last week of September. In anticipation of moving to Phase 3, they are also planning to offer private wine tastings, they’ll come to your house with a (curated) collection of wines to present and pour for you and your small group. You pick the theme or leave it up to them. After a guided tasting they’ll leave the wines with you to enjoy. Or, if you’d like to take your event to the next level, they can team up with one of their partner chefs and take care of your entire evening, from start to finish.

“Growing up in the islands (I was born on Orcas, left to become a sommelier in Las Vegas and returned a few years ago) we learn how to improvise and be creative. I have no doubt that we will weather this storm,” concluded Sisson. Find more information at

Do you have stories of other creative local business survival? Please share with

Story submitted by the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau, EDC and the Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Island Chambers of Commerce. Publication funding provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

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