Updated: May 29, 2020
Virtual wine tastings are such a great way to enjoy some fantastic wine and to hear all about it directly from the winemakers themselves. And you can enjoy it from the comfort of your home. No need to book flights and no need to secure transportation from the winery back to your hotel. Yes, I know. Experiencing wine country first hand is pretty amazing, but virtual tastings are a pretty great option that didn’t exist before. Frankly, I hope the option continues.
We just enjoyed a virtual tasting hosted by Frog’s Leap winery out of Napa Valley, California. We signed up with some friends and then ordered the wine directly from the winery for the tasting. Of course, there is a bit of timing involved, because the wine needs to be ordered and shipped in time for the tasting. Frog’s Leap used a 2nd day shipping service to make that happen, along with a minimal $5 shipping charge.
Virtual Wine Tasting with Napa Valley Wineries
I was quite curious about how they would manage the technology and how they would approach the tasting discussion. We all called in using Zoom (of course). Everyone is “doing Zoom meetings” these days. Good thing I bought a few shares last Summer. :)
The Frog’s Leap owner and his son conducted the online tasting that ran 60 minutes. They had a fun, easy going banter that made the entire tasting fun and relaxing. All participants were muted and the video only showed the father and son team. The chat and Q&A functionality were enabled. Participants were able to give shout outs and ask questions of these wine experts.
We definitely wanted to connect with our friends throughout the tasting. So, we just ended up texting each other to share thoughts about the wines.
This particular tasting included two additional wines from Truchard Vineyard which is also run by a father and son team. The Truchard’s joined in on the conversation sharing information on their wine. You could tell they all had a great rapport with each other as they joked and gave each other a hard time.
For a little background, the Truchard’s are grape growers in Napa Valley and provide grapes to a variety of wineries. Frog’s Leap has supplemented their own estate grown grapes with those grown by the Truchard’s. In 1989, the Trouchard’s decided to try their hand at making wine and have never looked back.
Tasting Four Napa Valley Wines
In this virtual wine tasting, we tried a Chardonnay and Merlot from Frog’s Leap and a Roussanne (similar to Chardonnay) and Pinot Noir from Truchard Vineyards.
The Chardonnay from Frog’s Leap had a very dry, mineral quality to it. Their goal was to produce a Chardonnay that was more like an unoaked, Chablis from France. They put it in new French oak barrels for 3 to 5 days only, then moved it to concrete tanks for 12 months. It was quite delicious without any detectable oak flavors (ie. vanilla, toast, butter).
The Merlot was our favorite. It had a strong green pepper aroma on the nose with soft, silky tannins, and deep black fruit flavors.
The Roussanne from Truchard was a new grape for me and my friends. It was most like an oaked Chardonnay, but with a slightly sweet finish. It was a wonderful wine that we ended up pairing with Pike fish grilled on a cedar plank that evening.
The Pinot Noir from Truchard was another fantastic wine. It had a wonderful black cherry, strawberry and earthy aroma. It had silky tannins with red fruit and vanilla notes with a bit of spice.
You might be thinking that opening 4 bottles of wine at one time for only 2 people is a lot. You would be right. We cheated a little and used a Coravin. It’s this cool tool that pushes a needle through the cork and pours out the wine while pushing Argon Gas into the bottle. This keeps the rest of the wine from coming into contact with any oxygen, preserving it as if you never touched the bottle.
Virtual Wine Tasting Summary
All of these wines were really top notch and what a fun way to experience wine while we are unable to travel right now. There are many ways of experiencing tastings. You can book private virtual tastings where you interact one-on-one with the winemaker. You can an even book a private party with a group of your friends and the winemakers. This way you can interact with the winemaker and with each other. Or you can hop on a Zoom video where you take in the conversation of the winemakers like you would a webinar. You still have the opportunity to ask questions of the winemaker, using the Q&A or Chat function.
Here are a few resources where you can find some great options for virtual wine tastings.
California: Napa Valley Vintners
California: Sonoma Valley Wine
Oregon: Willamette Valley Wine
Washington: Walla Walla Valley Wine