Wine industry finds virtual ways to connect with its customers
An online wine tasting may sound like a joke. But in the lockdown world it has become a way to do business.
Necessity, it is said, is the mother of invention. And the wine industry is proving inventive right now as it struggles to remain relevant in an environment where it cannot sell its products to customers or engage with them in traditional ways.
Cue a plethora of online wine-tasting events from top wineries all around South Africa, as well as their global counterparts. No, neither Zoom nor Houseparty are sufficiently advanced to enable you to lick your screen and get the 100% wine-tasting experience.
But at least you can engage with the winemaker. And providing you still have some fruit-of-the-vine squirreled away after four weeks of lockdown, you can also taste what he or she is tasting in faraway Paarl or Franschhoek.
Or, thanks to the magic of the internet, you can even venture further afield into the Barossa Valley wine-growing area of Australia or the famous Napa Valley in California.
Choose from a wide range of available virtual tastings
“We miss visiting wine farms, driving through historic entrances to taste great wines. But we can’t deny that there are some advantages to all the virtual tastings taking place during the lockdown period,” says local wine website Wine.co.za, while urging readers to enjoy a surprisingly large number of upcoming virtual tastings.
Among the offerings is a series of tastings led by Eben Bezuidenhoud, winemarker-turned-sommelier at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve at Gansbaai on the Western Cape coast. “His series of lockdown wine tastings are informative and cover broader themes such as sparkling wines in South Africa, so you don’t need the same bottle that he’s using for his tasting,” says Wine.co.za. You can join Eben here: https://www.instagram.com/eben.the.sommelier/channel/
Also recommended by the website are Black Cellar Club’s (BLACC) masterclass study sessions via Zoom and Facebook Live.
“They’ve had Joseph Dhafana from Mosi Wines, Andrea Mullineux from Mullineux Wines, Alistair Rimmer from Kleine Zalze and many more sessions with special guest speakers to come, running every Tuesday and Thursday at noon,” says writer Trudie Webb. Contact BLCC here: https://www.facebook.com/BLACCSA/
Wineries around the world are reassessing how to do business
According to a report by news agency Bloomberg, these are scenes that playing out around the world, from California to Cape Town. Centuries-old wineries and vineyards are reassessing their businesses at every step as the pandemic shakes up everything from labour and transportation to vital tourism and hospitality industries.
“Many wineries are building on direct-to-consumer sales through websites or membership clubs. For PlumpJack (winery) in Napa Valley, which relies on restaurants for two-thirds of its business, that means FaceTime tastings and virtual Q&A sessions,” Bloomberg says.
It also quotes Angelica Valenzuela, sales manager at Wines of Chile, as saying: “It challenges us to sell our brands with different methods, to be more creative, to use technology. In the end, when things return to normal, we’ll have our regular channels and the new ones developed during the coronavirus crisis.”