Flo Recruit has heard perhaps the most excitement from clients and friends about virtual wine tastings, so we gathered the details for you. Turns out there are LOTS of options, but I think we found the best.
Jörn, the founder of The Sommelier Company, answered the phone himself. Check out his qualifications here, which include Certified Sommelier, Masters of Wine Institute student, and PhD in business strategy with a dissertation on, you guessed it, wine.
The Sommelier Company is proud to be hosting lots of virtual events these days, and they welcome large groups. Jorn starts the process by letting you dream up a theme for your tasting, if you’d like, such as “Wines of Napa Valley,” “Journey through France,” or Jörn’s special, “Secrets of the Sommeliers.” He gave us the rest of the details by email:
“During a one-hour on-screen and interactive tasting session, attendees enjoy a guided tasting while being fully involved, actively tasting along and sharing impressions, and talking to the management team during the session.
“The Sommelier Company sends identical packages of 3 wines or 2 whiskeys to each attendee address, so that all can actually enjoy a tasting together. The presenting sommelier (usually certified sommelier Jörn Kleinhans, PhD, CFA for most sessions) may or may not alternate with a manager during the talk/presentation, and there may or may not be a slide show, all based on manager preference. Group sizes have no limitation, but groups of 20 work best for everyone to actually see and greet each other.
“Details can be organized reliably with around 3 weeks of lead time, and 10 days cut-off time for RSVPs so that all packages are reaching the attendees on time. Effective and entertaining "Dry" sommelier sessions (without alcohol) are also available and function well based on recent experience. An attractive theme can be established agreeably for each session.
“The Sommelier Company continues to plan and accept bookings for live tasting events that take place later this year. Potential event postponing is free for all new bookings.”
Finally, we asked Jörn about pricing. Price is subject to change and varies based on your event details. To give you an idea, a typical base price for the event is $1,400, and the variable cost per household can be at or under $85 ($25 for each of the three bottles of wine, plus tax and free shipping through Wine.com).
Lyon Wine Tastings offer a BYOB virtual tasting option! The host, Caroline Conner, grew up in California, moved overseas to study at Oxford, got a second degree from Cordon Bleu, and is a sommelier now living in Lyon, France. Her tastings focus on wine tasting technique, Lyon's local wine regions, and “anything else you want to learn.” She has five stars on Trip Advisor (for her virtual tastings, too) and even a feature in a New York Times article on the virtual travel industry.
Note that virtual Lyon Wine Tastings are typically for Zoom groups of six. I reached out to Caroline about hosting tastings for larger groups, and she sent me this specific information for groups of 11 and groups of 12 or more.
Group Tastings of 11 people (zoom numbers! gotta go in multiples - me)
Large Tastings of 12 or more
Bouchaine Vineyards in Napa Valley is offering 30% off wine and $1 shipping to accompany their virtual tastings. While this offer technically applies just to cases of 12 bottles, they’re going to apply it to individual bottles for Flo Recruit folks!
Read a Washington Post review of the experience, and get the details from Bouchaine’s wine educator, Tanya:
“The virtual tasting is hosted by two wine club members at a time. One wine educator sits at the front of the camera with the view of our sprawled out sustainable estate vineyard behind them, while the other wine educator walks the guests through a virtual full tour. This includes our vineyard showcasing our bud brea, our private cellar and our boutique size barrel room.”
Along with every case ordered, Bouchaine Vineyards is giving away a one year wine club membership. We think this would be a perfect item to raffle off to your summer associates during an event -- perhaps if they win “wine trivia” during the tasting! The membership includes post-COVID-19 travel benefits: a year of complimentary tastings for up to four people per visit, discounts on private events, and ten passes per year to gift to family and friends to use the wine club members benefits for a day.
Wine.com has scheduled guided tasting events for April 28, April 30, May 2, May 6, May 9, and more to come. Each has a unique theme, like “Hampton Water Rosé: Bon Jovi, Bertrand & Bongiovi.” You can order the wine from the website -- package prices range from $45 to $130 per household. I reached out to see if they’ll do discounts for our firms buying a bulk of packages - Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want the updates!