SAN FRANCISCO — While initially born of necessity, virtual wine tasting events and experiences have struck a chord with consumers looking to connect with their favorite California wineries. Closed for public visits since March 16 due to the statewide shelter-in-place (SIP) order, many wineries have found virtual events to be so popular that they plan to continue offering them even after their tasting rooms reopen. Virtual tasting experiences present opportunities for wineries to engage with new and existing customers throughout the country—even when they can’t make it to California. To view all the virtual events, see Wine Institute’s consumer website: Discover California Wines.
Virtual tastings have been well received by wine enthusiasts both locally and out of state, according to Michael Haney, executive director of Sonoma County Vintners. “They allow our winery members to continue to build relationships with their consumers during this challenging time, and for the future.”
Local wineries swiftly pivoted from in-person tasting experiences to virtual versions—with immediate positive results, said Stacey Dolan Capitani, vice president of marketing for Napa Valley Vintners. “Wineries are reporting increased consumer engagement, meeting new potential customers and seeing increased wine sales.“
„The Paso wine community quickly embraced the virtual tastings and experiences,” said Joel Peterson, executive director of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “We’ve been impressed with how our fans and followers have hopped on board and participated. The engagement has been fun!”
Following is a sampling of multi-date virtual tastings and experiences by California wineries across the state in May, June and beyond. Visit www.DiscoverCaliforniaWines.com for more events.
Cooking Demonstrations & Food and Wine Pairings
Throughout spring and summer, Baldacci Family Vineyards is hosting online tastings, food and wine pairing seminars, and winemaker meet-and-greets. Choose between Food & Wine, Wine with Friends, and Ask the Winemaker tastings.
Join ‘Sip and Cook’ Facebook Live chats with Justin and Eileen Boeger every Sunday in May as they make a meal, appetizer or dessert and sip wines from Boeger Winery in El Dorado County in the Sierra Foothills.
On May 15, 22 and 29, join Bokisch Vineyards in Lodi for virtual tastings, including a tasting with the winemaker & sangria-making demonstration, a musical happy hour in the vineyard, and a taste of terroir with a Catalan cooking session.
Ceja Vineyards hosts Taco Tuesday – Vino y Más with Amelia and Dalia Ceja on Facebook Live every Tuesday through May 24. Each week, the duo showcases a new recipe, discusses classic and contemporary dishes, and offers fun wine pairings.
Tune in to Instagram Live every Sunday in May for a live cooking demonstration and tasting with J Vineyards & Winery in Healdsburg with chef Carl Shelton. Happy hours are Fridays at 3 pm featuring an indepth tasting with winemaker Nicole Hitchcock.
Join La Crema Wines in Windsor through June 1 for the Sips & Tips Virtual Wine & Food Series. Every Friday, the winery’s chef and head winemaker will feature creative food and wine pairings interspersed with virtual tastings of select wines.
Le Vigne Winery in Paso Robles is hosting Winemaker Team Tastings through the end of May. Each week, team members feature two wines in an interactive tasting experience. Cheese pairings for each wine are also available for purchase.
On Instagram, chef Jeffery Russell hosts a live cooking demo pairing Louis M. Martini wines every Saturday at 3 pm. Winemaker Michael Eddy hosts a Friday Happy Hour at 4 pm PST to discuss single vineyard wines, enjoying aged Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and more.
Virtual Tastings, Happy Hours, and Vineyard and Winery Tours
Fridays through May, Ampelos Cellars in the Sta. Rita Hills is hosting educational virtual tastings on Zoom that explore topics such as biodynamic farming, sustainable practices, vine anatomy, flowering, and harvest decisions.
Andis Wines hosts Wine Wednesdays on Zoom. A May 13 virtual tasting focuses on Italian varietals from Amador County, while a May 20 event, “Appreciating all Shapes and Colors,” explores the reasons behind different wine bottle shapes and closures.
Belden Barns is hosting weekly Wine & Wishes virtual tastings through May 24 that explore bottlings from the Sonoma County winery’s portfolio. Learn how the wines’ flavors change when paired with random items from your pantry stockpile.
Join Boisset Collection Virtual Happy Hours every Mon., Wed., Fri. & Sat. through May. Vintner Jean-Charles Boisset explores art, design, fashion, architecture, history, nature, food, great chefs and the finest things in life.
Each Thursday in May, Broken Earth Winery in Paso Robles is hosting the Inophile Virtual Tasting with the winery’s hospitality director, Elise Herrera, and tasting room manager Tim Small. Explore a different wine each week.
Through the end of May, join Calcareous Vineyard winemaker Jason Joyce for Cellar Talk, a virtual tasting and showcase of the Paso Robles producer’s winemaking techniques.
Through May, join Écluse Wine in Paso Robles for Virtual Happy Hour on Facebook Live. Tastings feature one or two wines per week, with a Happy Hour Six Pack available for guests to purchase if they’d like to taste wines with the winemaker.
Join Gary Farrell Winery through June 20 for virtual Cellar Party sessions with the winery’s estate sommeliers. Ask any questions you may have about wine, hear sommelier stories and “virtually” meet special guests.
On Instagram Live, check out virtual events with J. Lohr Vineyards in Paso Robles. The May 20 tasting will present Summer Sippers from Monterey’s Arroyo Seco, and on June 10, Sustainability and the Art of Craft will show earth friendly practices that won the winery its Green Medal Award this year.
L’Aventure Wine in Paso Robles is hosting a Virtual Tasting Room Experience on Google Meet until the end of May, featuring Stephan, Dave and Patrick—aka the winery’s production team. Reserve a time slot, then choose the wines you’d like to taste and talk about.
Lynmar Estate in Sebastopol is offering virtual tastings through June 30 via Zoom, including a Wine Masterclass with winemaker Pete Soergel that addresses common winemaking and farming questions. Wine tasting kits are available for those who’d like to taste along.
Wednesdays through May 31, Palmaz Vineyards in Napa is offering Virtual Wine Tasting on The Wine Stream, where they’ll preview wines and share memories from 20 years of Napa Valley winemaking.
Every Wednesday and Friday through May 22, get a peek behind the curtain of Paso Robles Wine Country at Paso Zoom Hangouts. Topics may include what’s happening in the cellar and vineyard, experimental winemaking vessels and more.
Join Peachy Canyon Winery Thursdays through the end of May via Zoom and Instagram Live for Virtual Webinars with Josh & Jake, as they come to you live from the wine cellar, vineyards and more. Explore new release wines and some older gems.
Thursdays at 5 pm through May 28, join Samsara Wine Company for a Virtual Happy Hour and discussion of Santa Barbara County Wines, with new topics each week.
Through the end of May, Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles gives virtual tasting participants an inside look at what’s happening in the vineyard and winery. Events take place each Wednesday via Instagram Live.
Every Tuesday through May 26, Tolosa Winery in San Luis Obispo hosts Tasting Tuesdays with winemaker Frederic Delivert, featuring a new wine each week and a Q&A session. Through May 28, Tolosa offers Technical Thursdays—a behind-the-scenes tour of the winery’s estate vineyard and cellar.
For those looking for additional ideas to spice up their SIP meals, the Wine Country Table: Recipes Celebrating California’s Sustainable Harvest cookbook offers easy, inspiring recipes and suggested pairings for wines you can order directly from producers or purchase through grocery stores and online retailers.
Established in 1934, Wine Institute is the public policy advocacy group of 1,000 California wineries and affiliated businesses that initiates and advocates state, federal and international public policy to enhance the environment for the responsible production, consumption and enjoyment of wine. The organization works to enhance the economic and environmental health of the state through its leadership in sustainable winegrowing and a partnership with Visit California to showcase California’s wine and food offerings and the state as a top travel destination.
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Wine Institute Communications Department, 415/356-7525