When COVID-19 restrictions prevented customers from coming to them, City Winery Brisbane decided to take their interactive experiences to their customers. Now, as restrictions lift and customers return to the Fortitude Valley winery, the business is toasting the merits of thinking outside the cask.
As Brisbane’s only inner-city micro-winery, City Winery Brisbane had quickly built a strong reputation for its locally produced wine, fine food and in-house customer experiences, including wine tastings, wine and food pairings and wine-blending workshops.
But nearly a year to the day after the winery’s opening, COVID-19 restrictions were introduced that prevented these gatherings from happening. So, City Winery Brisbane co-founder Adam Penberthy says, the team began considering ways to take their on-site experiences off-site and into the homes of local wine lovers.
When life gives you grapes…
Penberthy and his team decided that they could “sit around and be nervous and upset”, or they could get on with it.
“We had two rounds of consultation with staff, just to generate ideas and get feedback,” he says. “There were some pearlers that came out of those team workshops in the early days of COVID – things that became highly successful for us, like our virtual food and wine pairing workshops.
“The saving grace for us that allowed us to pivot quickly was the ability to repackage all of our tourism products and experiences into virtual experiences and degustations. That’s what really carried the business through the worst of it.”
This involved delivering prepared food and wine to customers’ front doors, along with a blend of pre-recorded content and live video calls from the winemaker and winery staff to give customers an interactive experience from the comfort of their own homes.
“Every Saturday we delivered a four-course degustation with paired wines to homes around Brisbane,” Penberthy says.
“The virtual component of it was that they’d dial in for a live video conference with the team while they dined, so they could ask questions and try to replicate the experience that they would have had here.