Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia

VIrtual experiences are here to stay

Before the pandemic hit in 2020, online wine tastings were a foreign concept. But as ‘virtual drinks’ suddenly became the only way to socialise, the popularity of virtual tutored tastings skyrocketed in the blink of an eye.

It’s fascinating how quickly humans become accustomed to a new way of doing things and virtual tastings are no exception. With many employees in the corporate sector now choosing to work from home on a permanent or hybrid basis, virtual wine experiences have become a favoured activity for teams to re-connect and unwind in a relaxed online setting.

With Aussies unable to visit their favourite wineries during the pandemic, virtual tastings became a great way for wineries to reach people in their own homes, and for businesses of all sizes to incentivise their employees and provide effective team bonding opportunities.

Katrina Pizzini, from Pizzini Wines in Victoria’s King Valley, runs wine tastings and Italian cooking classes via video conferencing and believes these types of virtual activities break up the mundane for corporate teams, allowing individuals and corporate teams to learn a new skill, sample great wine and have some fun.

“We had never run any online wine tastings or cooking classes prior to the pandemic. In fact, the closest we came was conducting job interviews via Skype,” says Katrina.

“When the pandemic hit, it quickly became clear that there was a need for friends, families and colleagues to communicate and interact with each other in a meaningful, COVID-safe way.”

In addition to regular virtual wine tastings, Katrina runs online cooking classes through the Pizzini A tavola! cooking school, where she teaches the art of making the perfect pasta, gnocchi and risotto in real time.

“We have run cooking classes for groups that incorporate as few as six households, up to 35 households at a time, with each one receiving an ingredients pack in the mail beforehand, including produce, essential utensils and Pizzini wine,” says Katrina.

As vaccination rates continue to climb and we eye the light at the end of the tunnel, the question is whether virtual tastings will remain an important fixture within the wine economy. Katrina believes they will.

“While we can’t wait for visitors to fill our Cellar Door here in the King Valley, we know that the convenience and cost-effectiveness of online winery experiences will remain a relevant part of our offering,” she says.

Virtual wine tastings and cooking classes are proving to be popular among corporations of all shapes and sizes, with Pizzini hosting online sessions for companies ranging from major pharmaceuticals to NGOs, such as Next25.

“We’re a relatively small team of nine people working across two states, and we haven’t been face-to-face since March this year,” says Angie Bradbury, Senior Communications Advisor, Next25.

“The Pizzini cooking class was a terrific team activity, everyone just loved it and the time we had together at the end to catch up, with delicious gnocchi and gorgeous wine, was the best Zoom meeting we’d had in months.”

It seems clear that the notion of logging on to enjoy a communal sip has well and truly caught on, providing a much-needed income stream for wineries reeling from the economic impact of lockdown.

“While we look forward to getting out there for some real-life winery experiences in the months ahead, we’re pleased to see that virtual tastings and culinary activities have become another feather in the cap of our precious Australian wineries as they recover from the challenges of the past two years,” says Kate.