2020 Wrap-up & 12 Days of a BevFluence Christmas

Obviously, 2020 was a challenging year. One consolation was reading our content creator feed each day and learning from our community. This also helped us see how influencers were reacting to the pandemic and the general confusion of 2020.

We learned a lot about our community, our nation, and ourselves this past year and have put new ideas into action. Ideas for 2021 and beyond that will strengthen our communities and the ecosystem of content creation. Our ideas and strategies will boost content and influencer marketing relationships. Many of these strategies will remain relevant in a post-pandemic environment and we look forward to using our experience and knowledge to implement more economical and efficient influencer events in 2021. Many brands will come out of this year stronger, some will not come out at all but those who understand what has changed will be the strongest.

Our team has had its challenges this year but nothing that compares to the lives forever changed by COVID-19 and the deep-seated issues that we face. Our goals for the next year are to be inclusive, kind, all-embracing, and shoulder the responsibility of building up our community rather than tearing it down. So often you see one creator or influencers take down another, but we rise above that. In 2021 Bevfluence will host more inclusive events and campaigns than anyone has ever seen.

We are looking forward to what the future will bring, and growing along with the hospitality community as we emerge from turbulent times.

12 Days of a BevFluence Christmas

A Top bottle Under the Tree

The Bruery Partridge in a Pear Tree…
For our first we decided on this baby! Belgian-style quadrupel ale brewed with spice. We thought this was a fitting beginning to our 12 days countdown. Aside from the obvious name the team chose a true standout beer with incredibly fruit forward palate.
(Bevfluence)

Two Total Loves!

  1. Sans Leige “The Offering” GSM Red
    This is an absolutely stunning GSM from Santa Barbara County. Seriously, the nose on this bottle is just unbelievable. Stick your face in a glass of this and you’ll understand what I mean. Notes of sweet red berries, freshly chopped cedar, cinnamon, licorice, baked cherry pie. On the palate, this explodes in your mouth with dark fruit, molasses, fig, cola, and slight sour cherry on the finish. This is one of those wines that takes over your senses and before you know it, your bottle is gone. I’m curious to see this one’s aging potential and plan to revisit in a few years. 39% Grenache, 36% Syrah, 25% Mourvèdre.⁣
    (Lyssa Hurvitz – Wishes And Wine)
  2. Sequoia Sake Nama Sake
    Arguably, the best sake producers in the country are both in the SF Bay Area (Den Sake in Oakland since 2017 is the other), making Japan-worthy, critically acclaimed sake in the state that grows the most sake rice. Husband-wife team, Jake Myrick and Noriko Kamei, have been brewing Japan-worthy sake from their San Francisco warehouse since 2015 with this unpasteurized Junmai Ginjo Nama (or namazake) my favorite: tangy, fresh, alive with pear and citrus, yet smooth on the palate.
    (Virginia Miller – ThePerfectSpot)

Three French Drams

  1. Jean-Luc Pasquet L’Organic 07 Cognac
    Organic and with a refreshingly modern label and look for the category, Jean-Luc Pasquet L’Organic Cognacs use native yeasts, no chill-filtering, no added caramel or sugar. The producers are one of those rich family stories that makes the Cognac and Armagnac regions of France so special. This is a stunning spirit/eau de vie distilled from 100% ugni blanc grapes from a single vineyard in Cognac’s Grande Champagne region.
    (Virginia Miller – ThePerfectSpot)
  2. Tiffon XO Cognac
    Dating back to 1875 this brand nails it. A sublime cognac that is filled with figs chocolate, oak, leather, honey and caramel. A delicate and balanced dram worth every penny.
    (BevFluence)
  3. Lelouvier Calvados 1991
    In the south of Normandy sits a producer making fine Calvados since 1933… Fruit driven and bright acid, we love this one. It speaks to the soul of any true spirit lover. A beautiful and delicate Calvados!
    (Bevfluence)

Four Calling Rye

  1. Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
    A girl can’t live on gin alone, believe me I’ve tried. While Old Overholt rye whiskey had been around since 1810 and a Rivers family favorite- I have asked friends in Ohio to grab me a small warehouse worth of this control state only (2021 should see a batch released in PA- well if 2020 allows it) non chill filtered thing of legends. Did I mention it’s bottled at 92.6 proof and is on my desert island playlist.
    (Keli Rivers)
  2. Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye Roundstone Rye Cask Proof “Maple Finished”
    This is the cask proof Roundstone Rye finished in a Langdon Wood maple syrup barrel. The base is a powerful rye whiskey where the 58% abv is evident but countered by a remarkable smoothness and complexity. Now add in finishing in a maple syrup barrel that adds even more complexity and a sweet landing.
    (BevFluence)
  3. Myer Farm Distillers New York Straight Rye
    Tons of Check Mix, turpentine and coconibs. Beautiful, rounded spice with bright, quick finish. The farm is very beautiful.
    And once the planet opens again, it is worth a visit to the heart of the Finger Lakes. This is a great place and great rye.
    (BevFluence)
  4. Still 630 Rally Point Rye Experimental
    Lush candy corn, bright straw color, and cinnamon toast crunch. Very soft finish awesome. Love the number of whiskey these guys produce. Such a fun and co brand.
    (BevFluence)

5 Golden Rums

  1. Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin
    As an agricole lover and funk/hogo-chaser, I adore Haitian clairin and Saint Benevolence Clairin is an organic beauty from a father-son duo who also give directly back to Haiti.
    (Virginia Miller – ThePerfectSpot)
  2. Cotton & Reed Sherried Cask Strength Rum
    The rum is then aged in used bourbon barrels just like their Mellow Gold Rum Afterward, the aging rum is transferred to PX Sherry-seasoned casks where PX refers to Pedro Ximénez grapes aged in a solera system where the grape brandy undergoes oxidative aging for an Oloroso.
    (BevFluence)
  3. Puerto Rico Distillery Clandestine Pitorro Rum
    Pitorro is Puerto Rican moonshine — and not of the corn whiskey persuasion that we are familiar with within the United States. It is, in fact, an artisan rum produced by distilling sugar cane and traditionally cured with fruit and buried for several months.
    (BevFluence)
  4. Batiste Gold Rhum
    Rhum made in the French Caribbean and finished in Napa. The gold is aged in used rye barrels and has a clean quality and a bright fresh palate. Grassy and young with plenty of potential. These are unique and so they made our list in 2020 for cool and interesting rums.
    (BevFluence)
  5. Mount Gay XO Peated
    Made in Barbados this was one of the best rums we tried all year. Smooth and honey with baked fruit, caramel and a citrus-like finish. The finish happened in American whiskey barrels and Islay peated casks which give a dank citrus note that is incredible.
    (BevFluence)

SIX Books a Reading

Have you ever wondered if you need a centrifuge to make a Manhattan? Perhaps in life you find yourself wondering, what do fairies of the forest eat and how much? Maybe you are tired of myth and just want the facts about bourbon.
Check out our reading list…. Get it? check out, like a library!

  1. Beer FAQ by Jeff Cioletti
    Read this book and enjoy the one-of-a-kind take on beer history and current events. Not the easiest read ever but for those who want to learn about the beer life it’s worth a read.
  2. Vertical by Rex Pickett
    Are you in the mood for a bloviating windbag to tell you about wine? Read this book and you will get it, (the storyteller in the book, not Rex by the way)
  3. Bourbon Bible by Eric Zandona
    A great book that gives a history of Bourbon and tasting notes that actually make sense.
  4. The Troll Cookbook by Karima Cammell & Clint Marsh
    Such a fun and cool book, that is about a holistic approach to food.
  5. Fine Cider by Felix Nash
    Apples are the new oranges! This book gives a history but also deep dives into cider making and tips. We especially love the question on page 21, What is Cider?
  6. Liquid Intelligence
    Holy Shit.. The Ultimate geek out book on cocktails. If you have not read this book.. YOU KNOW NOTHING! Seriously it’s a good book.

Seven Gins a Swilling

  1. Rock Rose Jelly Donut
    Officially launched at the end of 2019- I didn’t crack mine open until the first of the year and man oh man am I still thinking about it. While the sweet fruity nose tricks you in thinking this is just another novelty item- this LTO is the real deal! It made a fantastic negroni or four! Sadly not available in the US.
  2. Four Pillars Off Broadway
    Four Pillars was the 2020 IWSC International Gin Producer of the Year (for the second year in a row) for good reason- always producing meaningful and thoughtful creations- this one is an Astor’s Wine and Spirits (NY) release only – sorry rest of the country and a must have for any serious Gin Collector.
    (Keli Rivers)
  3. Bully Boy Distillers “Estate Gin”
    This grain and apple distillate base gin from MA is everything a floral and citrus gin should be- while there is a good hit of juniper for those who want a more traditional gin. I love split base gins and Estate Gin’s popularity says I’m not the only one.
    (Keli Rivers)
  4. Tamworth Garden Backyard Gin; Blueberry Cucumber
    I know what you’re going to say, “dang it Keli, can’t you suggest a gin I can actually get a bottle of?” All I have to say is “It’s 2020 bitches!” Tamworth Distillery has been a go to of mine since I grabbed a bottle of their Apiary gin many moons ago and now that I live on the East Coast I have access to their limited editions like never before so when I took my only mini vacation this year to a small remote island in Maine I took the 3 hour detour to Tamworth and grabbed as much as I could. This was a stand out- an amazing nose that bloomed (pun intended) when I mixed it with soda water! I love gins that grow in the glass, a squeeze of key lime and there was no turning back.
    (Keli Rivers)
  5. Farallon Holy Wood & Cask Gin
    is easily the most intriguing (in a good way) spirit I had all year. It is a barrel-aged, palo-santo infused gin that adds another flavor dimension to Negroni. It’s truly spectacular.
  6. Black Button Distilling – Citrus Forward
    Very clean and citrus forward so it is well named. Orange peel and citrus hops on the nose. Balanced and nice. Well done!
    (BevFluence)
  7. Myer Farm Distillers Cayuga Gold Gin
    Bold and spicy with tons of crazy caramel pie crust notes. This has been a solid gin for years and has such an interesting flavor profile.
    (BevFluence)

8 Wines – a – pouring

  1. Péter Vida Bonsai Oregtokes Kadarka 2017 via Taste Hungary
    Kadarka is the Hungarian equivalent to Pinot Noir, both in the glass and in the vineyard. Once planted, Kadarka vines are temperamental – and like Pinot susceptible to grey rot and require constant attention. The rolling hills of Szekszard are Hungary’s most fertile agricultural region and enjoy both a Continental and Mediterranean climate. These dual climates provide a long growing season and the many valleys provide distinct micro-climates. It is produced from over hundred-year-old, gnarly-looking vines that a Japanese visitor likened to a Bonsai tree. “Often you literally have to kneel in front of the rootstocks to prune them as these are ancient bush-trained vines,” winery founder Péter Vida said. “The image on the label – a mix of a Bonsai tree and an old vine – aims to convey the sense that the wisdom of the plant is bigger than that of humans even if it is diminutive in size.” This is a delicious wine, light-medium bodied with a sour cherry dominance followed by slight spice and dirt. Expect a layer of texture and lifting acidity.
  2. Seis Soleil White Blend
    This white blend is a harmonious blend of Albariño and Grenache Blanc, and yes it is as lovely as it sounds! Floral and Aromatic on the nose with notes of lemon, honeydew, Granny Smith apple, orange blossom, light stone fruit, and nice minerality. The Grenache Blanc brings the mouthwatering fruit and acidity while the Albariño rounds out the experience with delicacy, making for an easy sipper perfect for sharing with friends or pairing with food. ⁣
    (Lyssa Hurvitz – Wishes And Wine)
  3. Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon from Caymus
    Bonanza Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Chuck Wagner, owner & winemaker of Caymus Vineyards. At around $20 a bottle, this is such a great go-to weeknight wine that can be paired beautifully with a meal or enjoyed on its own. ⁣On the nose, notes of violet, blackberry, fig, baked blueberry cobbler, and smoke. On the palate, I get more dark berries, licorice, mocha, a little bit of earthiness, and some toasted oak and vanilla. Smooth tannins and a velvety finish. ⁣
    (Lyssa Hurvitz – Wishes And Wine)
  4. Sea Bird Wines 2014 Poseidon Cabernet Sauvignon
    Beautifully structured with blueberry, blackberry, black currant with a hint of “Rutherford Dust” hitting you from front-to-back. At 14.5%, this wine slightly aged stands firmly by itself. You could serve this up with a lighter meal or open it to start a party. Sourced from the G3 Vineyard in Napa Valley, this wine is the iconic expression of what a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon should be – drink it now or hold it back for a few more years.
    (Joe Campbell – Sierra Wine Guy)
  5. JC Vizcarra Ribera del Duero 2013 100% Tempranillo
    This wine is so big and bold, if you told me it was a Barolo I would believe you. Goes great with spicy food. A fantastic Tempranillo from Northern Spain.
    (The Mad Martian)
  6. Angwin Estate Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
    Angwin Estate is a micro-boutique estate winery producing outstanding bottles that focus on a sense of place. Jon Larson crafts beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon from his family property, emphasizing natural winemaking philosophies in the process. This Cab is one that will stick with you long after the bottle’s gone.
    (Paige Comrie – Wine With Paige)
  7. 2012 Turiya Wines Sangiovese
    This 2012 Sangiovese is literally swoon-worthy. Ripe red fruit, mushroom, vibrant florals and spices explode on the nose, with fantastic notes of vanilla, caramel, herbs and dried meats. This is a 100% Sangiovese with berries hailing from Stolpman Vineyard in Santa Ynez. There were only 26 cases produced, so I recommend hopping on this now and not missing the opportunity to try this truly fantastic wine.
    (Lyssa Hurvitz – Wishes And Wine)
  8. Berryessa Gap Durif (Petite Sirah)
    Durif (Petite Sirah) is one of the many grapevines grown at Berryessa Gap and winemaker Nicole Salengo produces two versions, a field blend labeled Petite Sirah and a 100% Durif labeled using the European nomenclature. For a sensory descriptor, this wine is juicy, with dense blueberries, slight spice, and friendly chewy tannins. But on a metaphysical dimension, this wine provides the feeling after that perfect golf swing or getting the barrel on a baseball.
    (BevFluence)

9 Spirits Dancing

  1. Ardbeg Uigeadail
    I came across Uigeadail while shopping for a recent zoom chat on Whisky that I attended. Although I had a few bottles (Whisky) in my collection I wanted to try something new. While researching the Ardbeg I hadn’t tried what drew me to this one was the flavor notes of Campfire and Marshmallows. This whisky, paired with dark or milk chocolate brings back childhood memories of camping with family and friends and eating s’mores by the fire. It also pairs well with blue cheese and a smoky charcutier.
    (Rhett Moffat – Gone with the Wine)
  2. Golden Moon Kümmel
    The Golden Moon Distillery was awarded the American Distilling Institute’s 2019 Distillery of the Year Award and we leveraged a visit to this Golden Colorado distillery during our #BevFluenceExperienceDenver. We learned about their unique liquor program which included the Kümmel – a spirit initially developed by assistant distiller Robbie Cunningham based on a Scottish recipe. The base alcohol is flavored with caraway and fennel and on its own is an interesting spirit. But it was suggested as an alternative to vodka in a Bloody Mary – particularly with the Real Dill Bloody Mary mix and rimming spice, a dash of Celery Horseradish or Smoked Salt and Pepper bitters from FloraLuna Apothecary, and topped with a Real Dill Habanero Pickle.
    (BevFluence)
  3. Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit
    From Mike McCarron’s Minneapolis micro-distillery, Gamle Ode Aquavit leans Danish style, meaning dill-forward and grain-based. It pairs beautifully with everything from seafood to Reuben sandwiches.
    (Virginia Miller – The Perfect Spot)
  4. Vamonos Riendo Mezcal
    Just released in the States this year, Vamonos Riendo Mezcal is a prime, balanced example of less smoky mezcals, subtle enough (in smoke) to win over the non-converted, complex, and unique enough to win over mezcal lovers.
    (Virginia Miller – The Perfect Spot)
  5. Devil’s Share Bourbon Whiskey
    Let me introduce you to the next unicorn. Cutwater Spirits (formerly Ballast Point) have released a string of exceptional Devil’s Share Malt Whiskeys. Their latest iteration of Bourbon is an unabashed flavor bomb. It sits just outside of Kentucky flavor profile but all the components are very definitely in Bourbon territory. Leading with a nose of cedar chest, burnt sugar, and fruity bubble gum, it hits the tip of the tongue with sweet honeycomb candy, warming to a campfire. It is a bold fight between heat and flavor, with flavor winning out, and coating the tongue in rich viscous layers of cinnamon, leather and spice. Devil’s Share Bourbon finishes long and slightly drying, leaving a longing to pour a little more liquid on the smoldering embers. It is a good whiskey to dive into headfirst, and a hard one to put down once you’ve started.
    (BevFluence)
  6. Germain-Robin XO
    The new releases of the Germain-Robin XO brandy is the best opportunity people have to see the delicate craft of the master distiller/master blender. For approximately a decade, Hubert Germain-Robin was not involved in the blending and marrying of the spirits to make the brandies that bore his name. Since purchasing the brand, E&J Gallo have reunited the master with his babies… er, um, barrels. Working with the Gallo team, Germain-Robin created the blend of pot-still brandies from various grape varieties to again make his XO blend. The new red, black and cream packaging displays the rings of a redwood tree and makes the Germain-Robin blends jump off the shelf with the respect they deserve.(BevFluence)
  7. Lepanto Brandy de Jerez Solera Gran Reserva
    This is the only Brandy de Jerez to be produced entirely within Jerez. The spirit is made from Palomino grape must which is double distilled in Charentais pot stills (Cognac stills manufactured in the 1960s). The hearts or “holandas” of the run (68-72% abv) are aged in a traditional “Criaderas y Solera” system, in American oak casks previously used to age sherry. The solera contains 15 criaderas, with an average age of over 12 years. Nine of those years were spent in used Tio Pepe barrels and three in used Matusalem barrels
    (BevFluence)
  8. Nonino Grappa Chardonnay
    Nonino was founded in 1897 by Orazio Nonino in the Friuli region of Italy and has run through six generations as Benito and Giannola passed control over to their three daughters Cristina, Antonella and Elisabetta (the 5th generation). The Nonino’s consider 40% abv as grappa’s sweet spot and this delicious version weighs in at that level. It is completely devoid of heat both on the nose and in the palate and includes slight oak characters from mild oak treatment. Excellent.
    (BevFluence)
  9. Dancing Goat Distillery Limousin Rye B 14
    Using the oak they chose was a great call. This rye is killer, with notes of everything you want in quality rye. Spicy and bold, Chex mix and fades into a soft berry finish.
    (BevFluence)

10 Beers-a-Brewing

  1. The Boon Brewery Gueuze Mariage Parfait “Oude Gueuze”
    This is 100% spontaneously fermented, aged for a minimum of three years in oak barrels, blended, and re-fermented in the bottle. Completely dry, with a bready and tart mouthfeel. Sip and enjoy. According to craftbeer.com: Belgian-style Lambic or Gueuze beers are naturally and spontaneously fermented with high to very high levels of esters, plus bacterial and yeast-derived sourness that sometimes includes acetic flavors. Lambics are not blended, while the gueuze style blends old and new lambics which are re-fermented in the bottle. Historically, they are dry and completely attenuated, exhibiting no residual sweetness either from malt, sugar or artificial sweeteners. Sweet versions may be created through the addition of sugars or artificial sweeteners.
  2. Another Beer Company You’ve Earned It
    2020 has been a year of Mondays if you ask me. Sour beers have been my go-to for a couple years now and You’ve Earned It from Another Beer Company in New Westminster, British Columbia hits the soul right after a long day. Each batch has a different amount of coffee in it but I’ve never felt a buzz from this juicy sour. It’s refreshing on the palate and the soul.
  3. Dynasty Brewing Tiny Dictator Bourbon Barrel Stout
    Dang, this is one sumptuous beer. The Dynasty Brewing Co. Tiny Dictator Stout is aged 6 months in bourbon barrels with a little chocolate and vanilla thrown in. The bourbon is subtle; the chocolate is strong. The 13% abv is hidden away. Brewed in Ashburn, Virginia. Cheers.
  4. Hardywood Brewing Kentucky Christmas Morning
    Richmond’s Hardywood Park Craft Brewery produces a boatload of excellent beers from their Pils, Peach Tripel, to the Gingerbread Stout series. And for this type of list we have to feature one of these later – Hardywood Kentucky Christmas Morning. This beer starts by aging the original Gingerbread Stout in Kentucky bourbon barrels for several months and then cold filtering over freshly cracked locally roasted coffee beans. Think French Vanilla coffee over gingerbread.
  5. Radeberger Pilsner
    In contrast to the previous beer, often you long for a lighter more traditional beer as perhaps a thirst quencher or one that follows the Reinheitsgebot. In that case, reach for a Radeberger Pilsner. It’s clean, slightly bready, and a fresh balanced finish.
  6. Brewery Ommegang Solera
    This New York brewery seldom disappoints. This Solera is a tart golden ale crafted by Liefmans – their sister blenders in Belgium. Batches are fermented with mixed yeast cultures in open copper vats then aged for several months. Using a solera method approach, new batches are blended with older batches to achieve the proper balance between sweet and sour. Excellent.
  7. Propolis Brewing Beltane
    This Port Townsend brewery focuses on “Botanical Farmhouse Ales” like the Beltane which first showed on our radar at the 2017 SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience. This Saison is infused with elderflowers and Brettanomyces and is as complex and wild as imagined.
  8. Lewis and Clark Brewing Prickly Pear Pale Ale
    This is a satisfying beer that provides plenty of hop character without throwing an IBU bomb down your throat. The barley is predominantly Montana grown and malted while the Cascade hops are added both in the kettle and during dry-hopping. This recipe promotes a strong citrus aroma that blends nicely with the fresh ale.
  9. Uinta Brewing Hazy Nosh Hazy IPA
    Located in the Crossroads of the West, Uinta distributes widely and the Hazy Nosh is easily found. The IPA exudes the tropics with an approachable bitterness as the mango and pineapple juices dominate.

11 Piping Pinots

  1. Jean-Claude Boisset
    It is said that Pinot Noir has a thin skin, but this Bourgogne variation from JC Boisset is anything but fickle. What I like the most about this wine is how extremely well balanced it is. Carefully harvested from old vines within the Cote de Nuits. It delivers notes of Strawberries & Raspberries and the tannins are smooth and velvety on the palate.
    (Rhett Moffat – Gone with the Wine)
  2. Bruliam Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017
    According to founder/winemaker Kerith Overstreet, her dad told her she could “be whatever she wanted to be after medical school”… and so she did! After finishing her medical residency, she enrolled at UC Davis and catapulted into the wine world, and I’m so glad she did. Her single-vineyard Pinot Noirs are outstanding.
    (Paige Comrie – Wine With Paige)
  3. Gary Farrell Fort Ross Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017
    Gary Farrell is by far one of my favorite producers across the board. They craft stunning single-vineyard Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that’s simply breathtaking. This particular bottle is full of earthy mushrooms and bright strawberries. I rang in my birthday with this wine!
    (Paige Comrie – Wine With Paige)
  4. Bodega Tapiz Wapisa Pinot Noir 2017
    The Argentinean Los Acantilados Estate (San Javier, Atlantic Patagonia, Río Negro) is located very close to the Atlantic Ocean and at only 328 feet above sea level receives plenty of maritime cooling. It is also noted for its lime clay soils that lack organic matter. The proximity to the ocean is reflected in the drawing of a whale’s tail on the label. The wine is initially fruit-forward with red-berries then texture mid-palate finishing with firm yet approachable acids.
    (BevFluence)
  5. 45 North 2017 Pinot Noir
    As its name suggests, Michigan’s 45 North Vineyard & Winery shares the 45 degree North latitude with Oregon, Burgundy, and other prominent grape growing regions — specifically those regions where Pinot Noir thrives. We discovered this wine through the BevFluence Experience Denver and it is delicious – full-bodied with luscious red fruit, various spices, and a firm yet very approachable finish.
    (BevFluence)
  6. Ektimo Pinot Noir 2014
    In the last visit to a winery in early 2020 before the world changed forever I had the opportunity to visit Ektimo in Sonoma and it was grand. This pinot noir was excellent, exciting, and showed the brilliance of Sonoma pinot. Soft and subtle fruit with hints of mint and cherry.
    (BevFluence)
  7. Domaine Drouhin Pinot Noir 2017
    Who is not a fan of Oregon Pinot? Bring them to me.
    (BevFluence)
  8. Meadowcroft Pinot Noir 2014
    What can’t you love about this Pinot? Clean and subtle oak with some cedar, forest floor, and graham cracker. This winery has always been known for quality and this wine nails it.
    (BevFluence)
  9. Pessagno 2009 Four Boys Vineyard
    Still fruit there after 11 years. A solid wine with notes of bramble, licorice, and vanilla, with a lush currant still detectable. Enjoy this one with a steak believe it or not. We cannot wait to try the rest of the lineup.
    (BevFluence)
  10. Horse and Plow The Gardener Pinot Noir 2018
    Silky with baking spice, cocoa and vanilla all in a flavor bomb that screams great pinot.
    (BevFluence)
  11. Rhys Vineyard 2011 BearWallow Vineyard Pinot Noir
    This still holds up, with tons of bramble fruit and dry leaves. This wine is truly well made and looks like old burgundy tastes like it was made yesterday. Bramble as FUCK! This wine held up so well even for days after it was opened.
    (BevFluence)

12 AVAs for drinking

  1. Pope Valley CA: Gamling & McDuck 2018 Henry Vineyard Chenin Blanc
    These grapes are sourced from the Henry Vineyard in Pope Valley and the wine has citrus aromas on the nose with tropical fruit flavors mingling with notes of pear and apricot. The wine is medium-bodied wine and has an abv of 13.7 percent while staying bright and crisp.
    (Joe Campbell – Sierra Wine Guy)
  2. El Dorado CA: Skinner Vineyards 2018 Estate Mourvèdre
    This wine is deep purple in color with flavors of dark cherry, brown sugar, and blueberry with a hint of spice on the finish. This wine feels balanced with its ABV of 13.8 percent, structured tannins, and bright acidity. The cuttings for this wine were brought to California in the 1860s in what was part of the Pellier Collection.
    (Joe Campbell – Sierra Wine Guy)
  3. Lodi CA: Acquiesce Winery 2019 Bourboulenc
    The winery’s 2019 Bourboulenc is the first release of this grape as a single-varietal bottling in the US. There are apricot aromas with flavors of orange and ripe mango. This wine showcases great acidity with mineral characteristics on the finish. Pair this wine with a spicy Indian curry dish.
    (Joe Campbell – Sierra Wine Guy)
  4. Monticello VA: Virginia Petit Manseng
    Our BevFluence team discovered the virtues of dry full-bodied Petit Manseng from #Virginia during the #BevFluenceExperience Denver. The 2018 Horton Vineyards Petit Manseng was awarded the Governor’s Cup whereas the 2018 Michael Shaps landed in the Governor’s Case Club top 12 wines. They have their differences but share a depth and mouthfeel closer to a barrel-fermented Chardonnay.
    (BevFluence)
  5. Grand Valley CO: BookCliff Vineyards 2015 Grand Valley Reserve Cabernet Franc
    Another local find discovered through the #BevFluenceExperienceDenver and grown on vineyards located on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. This wine is fruit-forward, yet structured, firm tannins, and lacking the green vege character of many Other 46 Cabernet Francs.
    (BevFluence)
  6. Leelanau Peninsula MI: Aurora Cellars Cabernet Franc
    Cab Franc is a truly one of a kind grape 🍇. The way that cool-climate cab franc taste is remarkable. This wine was by yet silky, chocolate, cedar, oak, lush bramble, and smooth tannins all at the same time.
    (BevFluence)
  7. Applegate Valley OR: 2018 Troon Vineyard Estate Vermentino, Kubli Bench, Applegate Valley
    Foot treaded before pressed and fermented and resting on its lees for 6 months in mature French Oak Burgundy barrels. Enhanced aromatics and texture are readily apparent from this approach. There is also a noticeable saline or mineral character and bitter almonds. Finishes with refreshing acids
    (BevFluence)
  8. Texas High Plains: William Chris Vineyards 2018 Cinsault La Pradera
    Floral, light-bodied with some strawberries but more sour cherries. Slightly herbaceous with easy tannins and light acids. Perhaps chill slightly in the heat of summer.
    (BevFluence)
  9. Finger Lakes NY: Fox Run Vineyards 2018 Simmons Vineyard Traminette
    Special thanks to the New York Wine & Grape Foundation and their wine seminar “New York’s Heritage & Hybrid Wines with Carlo DeVito” for introducing us to this wine (although they featured the 2019, I found the 2018). Expect a tropical and melon aroma, complexity on the palate, lychee, stoney, viscosity, and acids matching the sugar.
    (BevFluence)
  10. Yakima Valley, WA: Mark Ryan Winery 2010 Lost Soul Syrah
    Chocolate galore
    (BevFluence)
  11. Ozark Highlands MO: St. James Winery Winemaker Series Norton 42
    This wine spoke to me at first swirl, sniff, and impactful sip! As with many Norton wines, the dusty terroir flowed along in the long finish but it was the ripples of bright dark fruits that created a silky elegant sip to savor. Holding its own, the wine pairs beautifully with rich deep chocolate cake.
    (Maureen Blum – MoWino.Com)
  12. Alexander Valley CA: Sutro Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
    Crafted by female winemaker, owner, and artist Alice Sutro, Sutro Wines are expressive of her family’s land and its unique terroir. Her Cabernet Sauvignon is stunning!
    (Paige Comrie – Wine With Paige)

With love, respect and regards for the new year,

Todd, Jennifer and Justin

The Michigan Wine Collaborative – BevFluence Influencer Campaign

What is was all about 

May is generally Michigan Wine Month and in May 2020 the Michigan Wine Collaborative partnered with BevFluence in order to expand beyond that month and promote Michigan wines throughout the summer. The Michigan Wine Collaborative (MWC) is a non-profit organization formed “to enhance the sustainability and profitability of the Michigan wine industry by supporting wineries, growers, related businesses and individuals connected to the industry – today and for future generations”. BevFluence is an organization created by beverage content creators and is a place to share ideas, enrich current relationships, and forge new connections that will increase professional opportunities. 

The Wineries 

There are approximately 150 wineries in the Great Lakes State with the majority clustered around southwest Michigan in the Lake Michigan Shore AVA and in the northeast with the Old Mission Peninsula AVA and Leelanau Peninsula AVA. The BevFluence campaign initially focused on three wineries, each representing one of these regions, then expanded to a final winery as the summer concluded.

Left Foot Charley is a winery located in Michigan’s Traverse City region — also called the Traverse Wine Coast because of the abundance of wineries located in the nearby Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail and the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula trail. One reason is that this northern Michigan region is situated on the 45th Parallel — lined up with the world’s most prestigious wine regions (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Piedmont, and Oregon’s Willamette Valley to name a few) where these regions experience the same angle of the sun and length of a day. Yet, that only is a partial explanation – particular microclimates matter such as found in the Old Mission Peninsula where Lake Michigan creates a very favorable grape growing environment. The “lake effect” snow protects the vines in the winter from freezing temperatures and provides a diurnal change in temperatures during the summer. Think bright acidity.

Left Foot Charley leverages small family-owned vineyards in the Old Mission Peninsula with most of these planted with less than 2 acres of vines. This translates to abundant tender loving care. The grapes are very intriguing and include many found in Germany and Austria: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, and Blaufränkisch – in addition to Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.

Aurora Cellars is situated in the middle of the Leelanau Peninsula American Viticultural Area (AVA), which was established in 1982. The AVA consists of a peninsula between Lake Michigan on the west and Grand Traverse Bay on the east. The lake effect caused by these two bodies of water helps moderate the climate making it highly suitable for viticulture. These are cold-climate grapes predominantly Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc — all vinified by Aurora Cellars in addition to the Austrian Grüner Veltliner and Blaufrankish.

Amoritas Vineyards is also situated in the Leelanau Peninsula AVA, just on the outskirts of the town of Lake Leelanau, and focuses on similar cold-climate white grapes.  These are Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc all estate-grown on rolling hills and sandy loam soils.

Click here for more…

12 Corners Vineyards is located on the shores of Lake Michigan within the Lake Michigan Shores AVA. In fact, this AVA is the oldest modern commercial grape region of the state and home to a majority of Michigan vineyards and half of the state wine grape production. That is because the region is sheltered from the harshness of winter by the “lake effect” which blankets the fruit vines with snow and provides slightly warmer temperatures. The winery is based on a 115-acre estate planted with both vinifera and hybrid grapes that includes Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Marquette, Traminette, and Gewürztraminer. Expect very affordable and clean wines whether dry or off-dry, semi-sweet or sweet.

The Team 

Seven BevFluence community members participated in the campaign, sharing their thoughts on these wines through various social media and provider platforms. The influencers and their platform’s social media handles are listed in the appendix below. Through several years of participating in online tastings and media excursions, the BevFluence team has developed a methodology to share and amplify content across multiple platforms. And these participants utilized this methodology throughout the campaign which was kicked off with a video interview of Emily Dockery on the BevFluence YouTube Channel. In this interview, she described the unique characteristics of the Michigan wine industry and the challenges brought about by the COVID lockdowns.   

Our Process

We turned our team loose on this one and they created some great content.  On social media, Instagram was the most popular platform, receiving widespread engagement for all influencers, particularly from Wine With Paige whose reach averaged over 3,000 accounts, and Nick Drinks with close to 1,000. In total, this campaign’s Instagram reach totalled 25,000 with 7,000 unique views. The BevFluence members also posted frequently on Facebook in some instances replicating the content from Instagram. These posts reached 8,000 views. Some of the highlights of the campaign included Nick Drinks video interview of Aurora winemaker and founder Drew Perry. And Cork Envy provided a series of one-minute videos in his garage or pool on a multitude of wines. 

Another participant in this campaign was the Repour Wine Saver, who generously donated several boxes of wine stoppers to each BevFluence influencer. These stoppers extend the open life of each wine bottle by absorbing oxygen from the air above the wine and from the wine itself thereby stopping the degradation process.  During the campaign, several influencers measured the freshness of a particular wine over a seven day period and reported no detectable signs of oxidation or degradation. 

The Michigan Wine Collaborative – BevFluence campaign unofficially concluded with a Twitter Wine Blogger Workshop where Bevfluence, the Michigan Wine Collaborative, and winemakers discussed the campaign’s implementation.  This discussion included the benefits of the BevFluence methodology as well as suggestions how winery’s can better enable and support future influencer campaigns. 

The long story made short is that if you want to get the best content and do not have the budget for huge marketing campaigns or have the time to thumb through every media request, sample request and local blogger that want to “cover you” consider a professional Influencer organization such as BevFluence.

This sounds like a marketing firm?

Nope, we are not a marketing firm and would be happy to recommend a decent fit to suit your needs. Instead, we are a collective; each member and participant in our content campaigns are themselves, content creators. We understand the value of the samples sent to influencers and how difficult it is for brands and PR firms to decide who gets what sample. That is why we hold our creators accountable for not producing content when samples are sent to them. These lessons are continually added to our methodology.

Impressions
We KNOW it went very well; there was loads of engagement and the influencers that were involved really enjoyed the wines. Our parameters were for the most part followed but underscore the importance of participants in future campaigns getting paid. Our members often have to choose between paid or sponsored content and posting just to post. Many content creators will leave content queued up or have bottles waiting to sample, but those samples get pushed aside for a paid post. In this gig economy, there are more opportunities than ever to post and share content and less and less opportunity to get paid. In 2020 alone posts by first-time creators increased by thousands of new creators because suddenly bartenders, restaurateurs, mixologists, and food and beverage professionals, the world over, found themselves out of work.

Our collaborative spirit and one of a kind influencer marketing campaign model put Michigan wines in the hands of several influencers across multiple regions. The BevFluence leadership focused its search for member content creators by simply looking for Collaborators who would provide the most bang for the buck. This search resulted in motivated influencers with one even getting mentioned in local Michigan news stories.

Final thoughts on the Michigan wine campaign
Overall the Michigan BevFluence Collaboration was a great success and not just from its extensive social media reach. Just as important, the campaign provided actual intelligence on what posting and sharing methods increased reach, instances of waste or duplication, and areas for improvement. This information was measured across all players within the campaign, from the BevFluence leadership, the influencer community, the Michigan Wine Collaborative, and the individual wineries. Many of these items were discussed in more detail during the #MIWineBloggerWorkshop and have all been incorporated into the dynamic BevFluence Influencer Methodology.  

3 valuable insights for the producer and content creator

Number one: understand fully what is being asked. Don’t sign on unless you understand all the requirements in detail.

Number two: play until the whistle blows. Do not participate unless you’re willing to see the project through to the end. This includes making sure that you write all of the content necessary or take all of the required pictures. For the producer, be attentive to interview requests, follow-up questions, and possibly, additional samples.

Number three: have fun with it. Our industry may have quite a bit of science involved, but it is not rocket science. We are not sending people to the moon; we’re drinking wine and taking pictures. Enjoy it.

Across the United States, there are small regions dedicated to producing wines that speak to that region. As content creators [bloggers, podcasters, writers, and others in the industry] we often forget that. The consumer can very easily get overwhelmed by the enormous selection in grocery stores — even when these wines are the focus of our content. How then is the consumer supposed to learn about incredibly small production regions like Lake Michigan, Idaho, Texas Hill Country, or the Finger Lakes? Many shelves are dominated by France Italy, Spain, California, Oregon without really giving the opportunity to these and other similar regions. While some retailers will have a local section it’s not as common as you might think.

One of BevFluence’s goals is to enhance the community of content creators while simultaneously strengthening the collaboration with producers who might not have the opportunity to reach most content creators. Once a producer reaches the correct content creator audience, they open themselves to an entirely new world of content velocity. That is what we accomplished with our Michigan wines campaign and what we will continue to do with producers and regions from the United States and around the world. 

Lastly, if you have not had a chance to go to Michigan or try their wine we strongly encourage you to do so. These are wines that are as varied in style as the people who make them.

Our work takes us to wine, beer and spirits regions around the country and indeed the world. We are happy to entertain any region and brand that wants to work with us so please feel free to reach out for 2021-2022 schedule as it fills up quickly.

Cheers,

The BevFluence Team

Appendix – The Participants

Michigan Wine Collaborative
Facebook: michiganwinecollaborative
Instagram: miwinecollab
Twitter: MIWineCollab

BevFluence
Facebook: BevFluence
Instagram:  bevFluence
Twitter: BevFluence

Left Foot Charley
Facebook: LeftFootCharleyWinery
Instagram: leftfootcharley
Twitter: LeftFootCharley

Aurora Cellars
Facebook: auroracellars
Instagram: auroracellars

Amoritas Vineyards
Facebook: AmoritasVineyards
Instagram: amoritasvineyards
Twitter : amoritasVINES

12 Corners Vineyards
Facebook: 12CornersVineyards
Instagram: 12cornersvineyards
Twitter: 12corners

Repour Wine Saver
Facebook: repourwinesaver
Instagram: repourwinesaver
Twitter: repourwinesaver

Justin Koury – Wizard of Whiskey
Facebook: wizardofwhiskey
Instagram: wizardofwhiskey
Twitter: wizardofwhiskey

Todd Godbout – WineCompass
Facebook: WineCompassIntl; thecompassapp
Instagram: tmgodbout; thecompasscbf
Twitter: winecompass

Jenn Nelson – WineAntics
Facebook: WineAntics
Instagram: wineantics
Twitter: WineAntics

Jason Stubblefield – CorkEnvy
Facebook: CorkEnvy
Instagram: corkEnvy
Twitter: CorkEnvy

Paige Comrie – Wine With Paige
Facebook: Wine with Paige
Instagram: winewithpaige

Nick Britsky – Nick Drinks
Facebook: nickdrinksdotcom
Instagram: nickdrinksdotcom
Twitter: nbritsky

Thea Dwelle – Luscious Lushes
Facebook: LusciousLushes
Instagram: lusciouslushes
Twitter: winebratsf; luscious_Lushes

Marketing

In 2020 we are seeing an explosion of new marketing ideas and concepts that are based in historical morays and philosophies. Marketing is a blend of strategy that seeks to capture technology, and innovation and package it for sale. Over the years, many tactics have been used to sell alcohol.  From frogs croaking out the name of the product to using the sheer beauty of the location to sell the product, these approaches have made beverage marketing the powerhouse that it is. Now faced with numerous challenges in tactics, demographics and a general mistrust from the consumer, brands need to once again adapt. 

Strategy for Attention 

Why do iconic campaign tunes or jingles  stick in our head, and why do they become Iconic. The answer is advertising and it is only after the marketing process that brands will spend money on advertising. This paper explores how modern marketing has and will continue to change with shifting demographics and spending habits. 

In beverage marketing, gaining the consumers attention is key.  Through romantic and oftentimes sexually charged imagery, catchy taglines, and the allure of luxury, consumers attention is drawn to the product. Taking a deeper dive in motivations the industry should take a deeper look at the origins of the AIDA method as it applies to advertising campaigns. This approach was developed in 1898 to explain personal selling techniques in life insurance.  

 The hierarchical, four step process that Lewis devised uses cognitive phrases that consumers relate to when considering a new product or acknowledging a new idea. This technique is still relevant and used today. We’ll explore how the AIDA method applies to beverage marketing campaigns in subsequent paragraphs.

Anheuser-Busch (AB) comes to mind regarding gaining an audience’s attention.  The well-known “Budweiser Frogs” commercial from the 1995 Super Bowl is one of the more memorable ads, along with 1999’s “Wassup”.  But Anheuser-Busch’s marketing does not rely on just creative gimmicks for their marketing strategy.  Their iconic Clydesdales are a branding powerhouse for the company, giving them some of their most heartwarming and touching ads.

The ads from Anheuser-Busch also pique interest.  AB has a history of creating multi-arcing storylines in their ads in order to draw  the viewer in.  This storyline makes the consumer respond, “Oh, yeah!  That is the beer that had that amazing commercial during (the event).” 

When it comes to desire, one immediately thinks sexually charged imagery.  This can range from a sultry, low voice from the characters in the ad to suggestive marketing.  Creating the desire for something that one does not have is the biggest driver in marketing.  Consider Oregon’s Naked Winery.  With suggestive wine names such as “Penetration”, “Vixen”, “Dominatrix”, and “Foreplay”, they take the concept of desire and maximize its impact. Although some are less suggestive and more explicit.

Action is more of a mental state.  It could be considered the cumulative effect of the other three processes.  This is when the consumer starts to wonder: “What will I have to do to get it?” This is in some arenas called fear of missing out or FOFMO and it elicits great drama which plays out in an orgy of bonfires every black friday when people push and shove to get whatever toy we were told is the must have. Every year we look at action in a concerning light in the guise of black friday. We look at the results of fear of missing out or FOMO as people push and shove to get the latest toy or must have dealt in an apocalyptic orgy of self-indulgence solely created by marketers to keep consumers wanting more.

Advertising Technology & Innovation 

Technology changes the landscape of marketing on a monthly basis.  To keep up, marketing professionals are quickly becoming technophiles.  From the invention of the television, the computer, the internet, and social media, marketers have had to adapt to new platforms thanks to the consumer’s rapid adaptation and dependence on new technology.

History 

The dawn of radio in the early twentieth century significantly broadened the speed and reach of marketing campaigns. Prior to radio advertisements, marketers had had limited mediums such as print and/or word of mouth marketing.  Bringing printed words to life with a voice meant that advertisers could display their excitement for a product beyond the page. The invention of the electronic television in 1927 dawned a new era in marketing, even though the first television advertising campaigns would not be seen for another 14 years.  On July 1st, 1941, the first television advertisement aired.  This advertisement  was for the luxury watchmaker Bulova, who spent $9 on advertisement (adjusted for inflation, that $9 is worth $157 in 2020).  It was a mere ten seconds long and aired in 4,000 households in New York City.

Television allowed companies to appeal to consumers in a new way.  Not only were they able to use moving pictures as they had since the 1930’s in the cinemas, they were able to reach consumers in their own home.  Television advertising grew tremendously over the following decades.  Today, Television advertising is a multi-billion-dollar business.  With large televised sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Daytona 500, alcohol marketing has become a large proportion of a company’s budgets.  Business Insider reported that in the first quarter of 2016, alcohol manufacturers spent $421 million on advertising.  Of that $421 million, 90% was spent on television spots.

Why is this important in beverage marketing?  Television is still the largest medium of advertising, with a captive audience, despite the advances to social media and digital marketing. Food for thought for producers in the future. 

Social media 

Social media is a catalyst in marketing.  In times of uncertainty, a well-developed social media marketing plan can mean the difference between a successful campaign and a dud.  It also sends a message to a whole new class of consumers…millennials and Gen-Z, also known as the “Zoomers”.

Millenials and Zoomers are a unique set of consumers to market to.  They don’t necessarily follow the societal norms for other generations when it comes to watching television and reading newspapers.  Millennials and Gen-Z are a distinct group of individuals who heavily rely on social media and digital marketing for not only their purchasing decisions, but their research into the product as well.

Wine marketing is about innovation.  From the times of prohibition When alcohol purveyors were finding creative solutions to get their product to people with the virtual approach that was taken during the SARS-COVID-19 outbreak in late 2019 and into 2020, the alcohol industry has been finding ways to continue their futures.

How much time should wineries spend on social media and how is ROI tracked? How do they know which platforms to use? These are questions for another paper or webinar perhaps. 

The wine industry has been finding ways to set themselves apart since the early days of the Gallo brothers. Joining forces with celebrities or celebrities opening their own wineries is one way that the wine industry has stayed relevant to consumer needs even creating it when needed. 

For the next few months each post will describe current marketing strategies, outline faults and threats and identify opportunities utilizing the best idea for the future. 

End of part one.

How to Work From Home

STEPS ON STAYING SANE

Many of us may never return to a traditional office setting and we need to be prepared. All across America companies are allowing or requiring all of their employees to work from home. Some companies are giving employees a choice to stay home. For those struggling with this hardship here are some guidelines to keep sane and productive.

How to stay sane working from home

  • Use a blocker to avoid social media
    Block apps like news, FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram
  • Keep a separate office space (if possible)
  • Don’t watch more than an hour of news (this is important to keep stress levels down)
  • Set a schedule (to the best of your ability)
  • Include mental and stretch breaks
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated but also to force bathroom breaks which force you to walk around
  • Use an hour of cleaning the house time to problem solve work issues. It will be surprising how solutions will come.
  • Do not overschedule just to make yourself seem busy
  • Tackle larger projects you have been putting off by breaking them up into smaller segments that you can accomplish within a day
  • Turn The TV off and use the radio or a music app to provide soft background noise if you must
  • Allocate time to get organized for the future
  • Take regular physical and mental breaks. Break contact with your computer for at least 60 seconds every hour. Look off into space or day dream for 60 seconds it only takes a minute.
  • Try and find a comfortable space, working from the kitchen table is often the only option but if you can put a small table and chair in a corner somewhere you might fare better.
  • Set semi-hard deadlines and learn to forgive yourself if you miss one or don’t have enough to keep you busy to the end of the day.

Working from home

Perhaps most important, LUNCH. Do not skip this, working from home already means working longer and later so the line between work time and home gets blurred. Take a lunch break everyday even if it’s 30 mins and a snack. Taking a lunch break is important for you to reset for the rest of the day.

Try to avoid feeling guilty, that feeling of just having to constantly check email, respond right away and not taking time to formulate a response. Working from home does not mean working 24/7 and being available all the time.

The bosses are often in the same boat, stuck at home with husbands or wives they are not used to spending 24 hours a day with and children that once were in school 8 hours a day. No one is alone in this.

 

Sustaining a Virtual Tasting Regime?


The Good, the bad and the boring! 

The use of craft beverage virtual tastings erupted frantically when the economy closed as producers sought means to engage with potential consumers. And participation was quite active as consumers looked for entertainment during the shutdown and proactively desired to support their local craft beverage producers.  But like most engagement activities, enthusiasm wanes over time, and producers must continue to entice consumers to join these virtual tastings.  Particularly if craft beverage producers choose to continue this means of social engagement once the economy re-opens.

This post will illustrate several best practices that the BevFluence team has drafted as well as ideas for attracting sustained participation. These practices are generally equivalent across all craft beverage industries with only minor deviations between them. And the tips provide opportunities for producers to attract a larger audience and engagement and sustain this marketing technique.

The loss of tasting room access across the nation means that brands struggled for an alternative. Many haphazard tastings, winemaker events, sales pitches, cocktail classes and promotional sessions all held virtually have clogged the already strained content highways. Be above the fray, and follow these best practices and ideas to take your tastings to the next level. 

With so many brands flooding the web with content this will help stand out. 

Best Practices

Determine the goal of each virtual tastings

Obviously, the end goal is to increase sales but determining a goal for each session will provide a better return on your marketing dollar. It will force you to stay focused and brainstorming ideas. Are you introducing your brand, a particular product, or a marketing campaign?

If your only goal is to increase sales then you will probably not do well. The goal needs to be education, engagement, meaningful content and outreach. 

Determine the hosting platform

Zoom and Facebook Live seem to be the most prevalent platforms being utilized at the moment. YouTube Live and a slew of other platforms have all exploded on the scene.  Instagram Live or Twitter chats are also possibilities and are considered important in some circles. 

Inform the public

Our Denver BevFluence Experience

Once you have discerned a topic, notify consumers as early as possible and frequently. Most importantly provide participants the ability to purchase the featured product(s) as soon as possible. Shipping can get complicated so plan ahead since logistics vary based on geographic location.  We recommend a minimum 14 days notice before the event.  Producers will receive much greater participation during the virtual session if participants are sipping along with the presenter. Do not waste the chance to get the customer to taste alongside the presenter.  The better you plan, the more chance you can get people to buy before the tasting and after. 

In addition, when sending notifications via email, blogs, or social media posts, add links to create calendar reminders so that consumers can easily save the virtual tasting date. Here is one source to generate the calendar event across multiple platforms: Add to calendar button. 

Finally, follow your initial announcement with daily or thrice weekly reminders and updates until the tasting. Do not bombard people but get the information out early and often. 

  • Advertise far enough ahead. 
  • Get the wines so people can watch and taste along. 
  • Discounted shipping and a promo code. 

Planning the tasting session

Before you begin, choose a physical broadcasting location that not only provides sufficient audio and lighting, but also a sense of comfort and security – particularly if the presenter has any sense of self-consciousness or insecurity.  Will broadcasting from a tasting bar or similar structure in your home provide more comfort or authority?  Or will a bookshelf filled with craft beverage books and awards?  Next, draft a sensory experience for those participants who were unable to purchase the featured product(s).  How are you going to explain the tasting notes to those not tasting along?  Finally, accumulate graphics to display throughout the session which should include bottle shots, photos of the establishment, andor maps – lots of maps. Show attendees where you are located as well as specific vineyard locations as regards wineries.

Interact with participants

During the tasting session, encourage questions and participant input. During marketing or registration, ask participants to submit questions beforehand and reserve time to answer and engage the questioner. Be sure to mention the person who asked it; they will appreciate hearing their name.  Also, directly engage with attendees you recognize by recalling shared experiences or asking them to discuss a topic in the chat. DO not neglect this, have someone monitor the chats or streams for questions during the event. 

Followup

Post links to the recorded session and to purchase the wines and distribute to consumers via email, blog post, or via social media. Start marketing your next tasting session. Mention the wines or products you are tasting on the next session so people in theory have the time to get them. 

We have used affiliate links to track how well sales do for the brands during our tastings. If you can track the data you can better understand how well you are doing and learn your true ROI. 

Tips for Sustaining and Widening Engagement

Widen the audience

Do not think entirely of the subset of existing consumers, but look towards other genres for new customers. Music lovers love craft beverages. So do gardeners.  And cooks.  Thus provide virtuals sessions on these subjects by inviting an expert and pairing with a craft beverage. Cooking demonstrations are already being presented as they are easiest to implement.  Reach out to a local garden center or within your own staff for someone knowledgeable enough to demonstrate creating a custom plant container.  Or pair your targeted beverage with music; maybe an album, song, or musician.  Many musicians are performing at home in similar settings so reach out to one and trade a sample for a song.  And with all these examples, the actual demonstrations or performances could be recorded earlier and showed during the session.

Use social media targeting when promoting your event. It will help you narrow down the theme and the audience. Look outside your comfort zone, you never know who could be watching. Collaborations are a great way to expand your audience across many platforms. These are often overlooked due to the legal and regulatory hurdles, but given the virtual 

Cocktails

Yes, cocktail demonstrations are obvious for craft distillers, but they are also intriguing options for breweries, wineries, and cider producers. For the latter, think of a Josie Russell, Hemingway’s favorite cider cocktail using hard cider and rum.  For craft brewers, check out Craft Brewing. Or Liquor.com.  And sparkling wine is an obvious candidate for cocktails, but what about red wine? Try these Red Wine Cocktails.

Glassware

Over time, even your most rapid supports will start to wane interest so plan educational sessions to keep them engaged. We recommend discussing glassware, which is appropriate for each beverage style and how the sensory character of the beverage can change based on the serving vessel. If you have a glassware partnership all the better; this is another potential channel to get your message circulated when they share your content. 

Specific Educational Topics

Depending on the industry, there are other topics that a producer can present that may include additional planning and logistics, but should be engaging and interesting topics. Wineries can discuss and demonstrate cellar practices such as racking and blending sessions.  Vineyard managers could present grafting, pruning, ground cover, pests, or grape varieties.  Brewers can discuss malting, hops, sour programs, and beer styles such as lagers versus ales. And distilleries can present bourbon regulations, casks, or historic liquors.

Courtesy of The Dwelle

Conclusion

This article was not written to encourage every brand to rush out and produce online virtual tastings. In fact, the opposite is true; not all brands need an online virtual tasting regime. How can you discern if you should be hosting virtual tastings? Look at your email list, look at engagements online, look at the number of people who follow your brand on Facebook or other social media platforms. Is your audience still engaged?  Have you never been able to sustain continual engagement activity?  Then perhaps this may not be worth your time. However if you are committed to establishing and maintaining your brand’s online presence, then online tastings could be a valuable tool to expand followers and potentially sales. 

Making the choice to market your brand in a virtual tasting format is complicated. 

You must have 

  • Great Video(the aesthetic is important) 
  • Great content 
  • Incredible delivery 
  • Knowledgeable presentations 
  • An interesting story 
  • Time and energy to promote yourself
  • And… the audience to care

Good luck! 

The BevFluence Team!