LOS ANGELES (CBS) The coronavirus pandemic has forced wineries from coast to coast to close their vineyards and tasting rooms to customers. But that hasn't stopped the wine from pouring at home in virtual tasting rooms.
Aurora Cellars winery in Northern Michigan was already considering virtual tastings. Co-owner Taylor Simpson says the coronavirus forced the issue.
"When news of the stay-at-home order happened here in Michigan and we were told we had to close our tasting rooms, we wanted to find a way to stay connected," Simpson said.
Winemaker Drew Perry leads at-home audiences through the virtual wine tasting experiences live on Instagram. Participants have the featured wines delivered to their homes in advance. Simpson says they get three different bottles that are sold together.
Jerry Murray, the owner of Project M Wines in Willamette, Oregon, conducts his virtual tastings on Zoom.
"If you're interested in my wines, in particular, we can talk about that. If you're interested in geology/geography, sort of the standard things that winemakers talk about, soils and clones, we can do that. Or we can talk about the history of wine," he said.
Murray sees virtual tastings as an opportunity for wine to help people through an unusual time.
"It can be a source of comfort for people, a source of inspiration and through these virtual tastings it can become a social activity," he said.
As virtual tastings become more popular, wineries hope they will help keep them in business and lure in new customers.