While nothing can replace the in-person experience of wine tasting in Napa Valley, virtual wine tastings offer a wonderful way to enjoy exceptional wines in the comfort of your home while supporting small businesses.
The smell of crushed and fermenting grapes during fall’s harvest season. The breathtaking scenery that makes it difficult for drivers to focus on the road ahead. The people-watching of women in their obligatory colorful, flowy dresses, wedges, designer handbags, and sun hats. The stunning wine estates, each one dazzling in its own way, whether it be with fountains, columns, a long, ginkgo-lined driveway, or another unique and memorable feature. The toots of the Napa Valley Wine Train as it chugs along the tracks. The after-dinner strolls down dimly lit Washington Street in charming Yountville. These familiar smells, sights and sounds combine to make Napa Valley such a special place for visitors and residents alike.
After the state’s shelter-in-place order went into effect in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some Napa Valley wineries, including Alpha Omega in Rutherford, began bringing Napa Valley to you in the form of virtual tastings. Imagine now having access to winery owners and winemakers from the comfort of your home while sipping their treasured wines.
For its first weekly live virtual tasting, an interactive, group experience on Zoom led by Alpha Omega’s winemaker Henrik Poulsen, master sommelier Bob Bath, and virtual ambassador Barrett Spiegel, Alpha Omega attracted more than 80 participants from 22 states who received four wines from its 2020 Signature Series release in advance of the tasting. The following week, Alpha Omega virtually showcased a 3-year vertical (2012, 2013, and 2014) of Cabernet Sauvignon from the historical Beckstoffer Missouri Hopper Vineyard in a group setting. For both tastings, Alpha Omega vintners Robin and Michelle Baggett participated from their vacation home in Lake Tahoe and chatted with guests. For those seeking a more exclusive experience, there are private virtual tastings as well, the perfect way for friends to get together from anywhere in the country or a unique gift for wine lovers.
While nothing can replace the in-person experience of wine tasting in Napa Valley, virtual tastings offer a wonderful way to enjoy exceptional wines in the comfort of your home while supporting small businesses. Napa Valley has such a big name that many people don’t realize that 95 percent of the wineries are family-owned and the majority are small producers. Of Napa Valley Vintners’ 550 members, nearly 80 percent produce fewer than 10,000 cases annually.
It’s been heartening to see all of the good things small Napa Valley businesses are doing for others during the pandemic. Tra Vigne Pizzeria started a #PayItForwardFriday which allows customers to purchase pizzas and family-style salads to be delivered on Fridays to charitable recipients, including OLE Health and Queen of the Valley Medical Center. Beckstoffer Vineyards, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, donated $100,000 for COVID-19 relief to those most in need in Napa, Mendocino, and Lake counties.
Through mid-April, Compline Wine Bar, Restaurant & Merchant in downtown Napa prepared and delivered nearly 4,000 sponsored meals to healthcare professionals at local hospitals. Napa Valley Distillery created hand sanitizers from spirits to provide free of charge to the community and law enforcement. Round Pond Estate in Rutherford donated produce from its winery gardens that would have been used in tasting room experiences to staff and local food banks.
These are just a few of the giving efforts by small Napa Valley businesses. I hope you can support Napa Valley either virtually or in person when hotels, restaurants, and wineries reopen. I look forward to seeing you. Cheers!