The experience of a wine tour doesn’t have to be on hold because of social distancing. One area company is hoping people will self-isolate with a glass of wine and Facebook Live.
Wine Journeys is a Barrie-based wine-tasting business that will usually has its guests meet up at a chosen restaurant during their tour.
With establishments closed due to COVID-19, the provincial government’s non-essential business ban and everyone being cautious of the current health crisis, Wine Journeys president Trent Mayers had to think outside the box.
“I was kind of concerned when I knew I wouldn’t be able to meet in a group at a restaurant; my business depends on that personal gathering,” Mayers said. “I had to find a way to connect with people in a business that is solely based on getting together in groups.”
Mayers recently set up a Facebook Live session for people to get on and taste some wine while being educated in all that goes with it.
Before the session begins, Mayers posts which wine to buy at the LCBO to be ready to taste together. Once Facebook Live begins, so does the wine education.
“A lot of people think wine tasting is just drinking wine and, sure, that is a wonderful part of it, but it is a journey and any wine lover will tell you that,” Mayers said. “I teach the reasons wine glasses are shaped the way they are, great wine and food combinations and a little about why you might really like one wine over another.”
Mayers used to call himself an “animal wine lover” as he drank sweet wines like Baby Duck. It was his first taste of Beaujolais 40 years ago that turned his wine drinking into a passion.
“I was blown away and wanted to know more about this wine. I wanted to know why it was so good, why I enjoyed the aroma, the colour and taste all at once,” said Mayers.
Having left his pharmacy profession, Mayers focused on wine full time. He took courses at the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, read as many wine magazines as he could and toured the world’s finest wine regions.
Despite COVID-19 shutting down in-person social gatherings (the province prohibits gatherings of more than five people, with strict exceptions, to stop the spread of the virus), Mayers knew that the online social aspect of meeting was huge and likely to get bigger now.
He has seen views of the video steadily grow.
“Tuesday we had about eight people watching, but now it's at maybe 70 total who have seen the first show,” said Mayers. “That was the benefit of Facebook Live rather than Zoom; if you were busy, you could check it out later.”
The next online event will be tonight, Sunday, March 29, starting at 8 p.m., allowing some people to get the kids to bed and relax with a glass.
With only one show under his belt, Mayers said he'll makes changes as he goes. He said he's enjoying the new venture, but can’t wait to get back with people in-person.
“Yes, I really am looking forward to going to a restaurant with a group. But I am also excited as to how this online communication can reach people,” said Mayers. “Some folks may enjoy just curling up with their device, a glass of wine and staying home.”
All the information for the upcoming event is on the Facebook page.