Future Trends in Wine – The New Tasting Room & Evolution of Virtual Tastings
What does the future hold for wine tasting rooms and virtual tastings after the pandemic?
While we suffered from Zoom fatigue over 10 months, wineries adapted tasting rooms to a new reality and pivoted to online events.
Wine lovers learned it was easy to discover and buy great wine online. Because travel to wine country isn’t comfortable yet, fans will continue to connect with favorite wineries and brands online.
Let’s look at a few of the changes in wine tasting rooms and virtual wine tastings.
Changes in the Wine Tasting Room Experience
When the pandemic subsides, returning to tasting rooms will take time and they will be different.
Customer and employee safety will remain top of mind for most businesses. Local governments will continue to adjust and adapt regulations to support safe practices.
Managing customer flow and maintaining cleaning protocols will continue. Higher hospitality standards will become the norm.
Here are some other ways tasting rooms will change:
- Reserved and seated tastings will be standard. Most wineries won’t want to return to a “bar” type of experience. They will continue to restrict the number of visitors and control how they interact with staff.
- A less crowded tasting room will be more relaxed, controlled, and intimate, a win for both wineries and guests.
- Visitors have adapted to new standards of cleanliness and sanitizing and will expect this to continue.
- Wineries will expand outdoor tastings depending on location and weather, and some may remodel their tasting rooms.
- Other changes might include allowing more guests through expanded hours and adding food options to seated tastings.
Wineries focused on more robust high-touch experiences will draw visitors. They will build longer-term relationships by offering guests more intimate and exclusive events.
Less Wine Tasting Room Revenue
The pandemic made it clear that relying on tasting rooms as the primary revenue source is not sustainable.
Winery visits declined in recent years, and the pandemic made it worse. Wine tourism was decimated. California suffered even more due to wildfires.
Once vaccines are widespread, travel demand will increase, but tourism won’t recover until at least 2024, four years from now. Given the pandemic’s economic damage, some visitors may never return.
Higher travel costs and the environmental impact of travel are additional factors. People might find it easier to gather on the back deck and enjoy a virtual wine experience.
Wineries need to develop clear strategies for online sales and marketing to ensure future success.
Changes in Virtual Wine Tasting
Most wine shoppers use the Internet to learn about specific wines. Wineries must leverage the digital space to increase reach, engagement, and revenues, especially smaller ones.
Copying the tasting room experience, though, doesn’t work. With creativity and commitment, wineries can deliver authentic and immersive experiences in the virtual space.
Over the past 10 months, wineries learned more about how to connect with consumers online. Online purchases offset about 70% of tasting room sales because of higher average orders.
Wine shoppers learned new digital tools like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, Facebook Live, and Instagram. Wineries are using these tools to engage customers and grow their brands.
However, viewers turned away from boring lectures and wine reviews. Sales did not materialize if the event was not engaging. The best events were easy, fun, informative, and inexpensive.
Wineries should communicate their brand’s story and introduce viewers to the people and passions behind the wine. Viewers want to experience the brand’s personality. Show them the cellar, tasting room, and vineyards.
Successful wineries also use SEO and digital video to draw potential customers. Some access email lists through fee-based third-party platforms. Others offer discounts before and after events to drive sales or send the event replay later as a reminder.
Giving guests better online experiences increases sales and club sign-ups.
Fun Virtual Wine Experiences
Fun is the future of virtual wine experiences. Reaching targeted customers requires delivering something uniquely engaging. Interactive high-quality educational and entertaining events keep people coming back.
Here are some approaches we’ve seen on the Internet:
- Wine blending classes, blind tastings, library wines, panel discussions, new vintages, sustainable vineyard techniques
- Personal one-on-one virtual tastings for club members
- Wine and dance parties with live music
- Guest hosts, celebrity partnerships, comedians
- Chef-driven cooking classes, virtual wine dinners
- Trivia, giveaways, contests, quizzes, competitions leveraging popular retail partners
- Pajama/yoga parties or painting/drawing classes
- Murder mysteries
- Corporate and trade events
- Ongoing series of events
Throwing in a small gift or educational material (maps, guides, etc.) delights participants who place orders.
Events can be adapted to reach under-served demographics, especially those who might not travel to wine country.
Wine lovers want to hang out with other wine lovers. They want to have fun, try new wines, and talk about them with like-minded people. Encourage participation. The future is in creating an online wine family.
Tips for Successful Future Events
- Be social, entertaining, and engaging
- Create intriguing topics and encourage interactive participation
- Show the values and personality of the brand
- Use landing pages to make purchasing easy
- Use high-quality audio and video equipment with clear instructions
- Keep the price affordable to encourage more participation
- Consider smaller package sizes, half-bottles, samples, and alternative packages
- Keep events short, one hour or less
While the pandemic forced massive change, wine lovers still want to have fun, socialize with others, and share their passions for wine. The future belongs to wine businesses that are flexible and give wine lovers what they want.
Learn more about online wine tasting at Big Hammer Wines.