The COVID-19 pandemic is a global challenge affecting many businesses and the wine industry is no exception. Tasting rooms across the globe have shuttered to slow the spread of the virus, which has been a big blow to the wine industry since their business relies heavily on tourists and oenophiles. So how have wineries shifted to accommodate a rapidly changing consumer landscape? They’re offering virtual wine tasting opportunities—because, well, of course they are.
Amid the outbreak, wineries have decided that quarantine isn’t going to keep them down and they are relying on technology and social media platforms such as Facebook Live and Instagram Live to offer virtual wine tasting experiences.
Virtual wine tasting has become the new normal since the pandemic began. With ZOOM wine tastings on the rise, you can continue to keep your social life alive by meeting new friends while sipping and learning about new varietals all from the comfort of your living room.
Wineries have found that Zoom has been a great tool to keep in touch with their existing members and attract new members. With these virtual tastings, wine lovers can also sip wine while enjoying a virtual tour of the winery’s vineyards and wine cellars.
One large winery, Buena Vista, adds “historical fun” to its virtual wine tasting by employing local actor George Webber to dress in period clothing as the winery’s founder “The Count” Agoston Harasthy. Webber takes his viewers back in time when he broadcasts his weekly virtual wine tastings and wine cellar tours:
“While it’s certainly an interesting phenomenon—a different world now without throngs of people visiting our tasting room—this is a remarkable opportunity to present the wines, the history behind the wines, the flavors and aromas of each wine in a format that provides plenty of time to talk about the wines and share my perceptions with people around the world who can comment live.” “It is a fun and unique way to keep commerce going in these difficult times.”
~ George Webber, Buena Vista Winery Tour Guide
Wineries that sold their wines in restaurants and bars also sought new revenue streams since statewide shutdowns. Red Tail Ridge Winery, located in the Finger Lakes region of New York, is operated by husband and wife Michael Schnelle and Nancy Irelan. They explained to the New York Times that they depend on the sales from local restaurants and their tasting room for income so they are now selling wine online and offer curbside pickup.
A “pick me up”
Other wineries that are offering curbside pickup and delivery are Hermann J. Wiemer’s in Seneca Lake, New York and Grande River Vineyards in Colorado. Wölffer Estate Vineyard found a creative solution to minimize any health concerns retail customers may have in picking up orders. They opened the first “handsfree wine drive-thru” where customers can pull up in their cars, select wines, and swipe their cards as they load trunks, without having to even get out of the car.
The world is changing so fast and technology is all around us. With that being said, it’s no surprise that the wine industry would also jump on the software bandwagon. Hundreds of wine apps are on the rise, such as apps to help wine consumers locate wineries, apps that help you pronounce ambiguous wine names and apps that calculate UK wine tax on a bottle from a supermarket. Most of these apps perform these tasks individually, but with all the wine apps on the market, is there a wine app that oenophiles, winemakers, and restaurants use collectively during a future pandemic?
TriWine, one of many upcoming platforms set to launch in Summer 2020, merges all three facets of the wine industry—the winemaker, the wine consumer, and restaurants that might be looking for new wines to add to their collections. TriWine app Founder and CEO Ezra Mann recognized the need for the app after working with many wineries and having wine memberships. Mann says to think of the app as a farmers market for your wine selections.
“TriWine wants to focus on allowing people to get wines straight from the wineries”
~ Ezra Mann, TriWine Founder & CEO
TriWine breaks down barriers by allowing users of all demographics to experiment with all types of wine from around the world, touching every corner of the taste palette. TriWine allows the end-user to take the bias out of wine tasting by aligning your taste buds with the best winemakers!
Learning from what wineries are going through at this time, TriWine attempts to make it easy for wineries to reach out to new customers they might have never had access to and will be able to market to wine drinkers directly based on their particular tastes, preferences, and interests. Seeing how many wineries are adopting video, they plan on giving wineries the ability to host remote tastings with their club members.
Wine drinkers will utilize the app to book wine tastings, find “hidden gem” wineries and, most importantly, become their own sommeliers by enjoying wines based on their own tracked tastes wineries they’ve visited already and plan to see in the future.
During a seemingly endless quarantine, winemakers and wine consumers now realize that the wine industry can be disrupted at any time. The TriWine app sounds like the perfect solution to an imminent problem. Wineries across the board will need to modernize, add mobile sales optimization tools and start to learn from consumer’s buying habits. The ability to push mobile information and sales offers will only help them, while also letting them promote their events when they are back on.
Coronavirus is forcing wineries to get creative and come up with new ways to engage wine drinkers. Technology like TriWine offers a multi-faceted solution which allows wine drinkers to experience wine in its full capacity and helps winemakers to reach countless more wine enthusiasts.