September marks the beginning of harvest for most wineries along the west coast, which is always a big draw for wine lovers. Due to COVID-19, wineries have had to get creative about interacting with wine consumers. This includes virtual wine tasting, which has allowed wineries of all sizes and budgets a venue to interact with wine lovers.
Many wineries have begun hosting virtual wine tastings, and the formats are as varied as the wineries hosting them. Some of the big-name wineries from California are offering weekly live events on their social media platforms with celebrities, high production value, and an almost ‘talk show’ format. Other winemakers have become stars themselves, making short videos in which they discuss their wine, give tasting notes and talk about what goes into making that particular bottle.
If you’re like me, you’re asking yourself “why would I want to listen to someone talk about the wine without having a glass of my own?” Well, many Washington wineries have you covered. Panther Creek Cellars in Woodinville even offers a virtual tasting wine class. The class is conducted by the General Manager and Certified Sommelier discussing four wines. For a flat fee they will ship you four wines and even schedule a 45-minute zoom session where you can learn more about wine, and these wines in particular and ask as many questions as you have.
I participated in one of their zoom sessions and found it very informative. My class was a mini vertical tasting: two vintages of a single vineyard Pinot Noir. What made the interaction even more enjoyable was that the vineyard owner participated. He provided details about his grape choices, on why he planted the grapes and how the soil and elevations made for great grapes that become amazing wines. We tasted the two vintages back to back, everything being the same other than the different weather from year and year. The virtual setting made it easy to ask questions from the comfort of my own dining room.
We tasted the 2015 & 2016 Kalita Vineyards Pinot Noir. The difference was immediately visible: the 2015 having a more old-world color and the 2016 being more ruby red. While we tasted, they educated us on the growing season and wine making process. It was almost more informative than had we been tasting in person, since the experts were right in front of us.
The Pinot Noir wines from Panther Creek are perfect for this time of year. The lighter Pinot Noirs are delicious on those warm end of summer days and the deeper wines are perfect bottles to transition us into the cooler autumn months. A favorite way for us to serve Pinot at this time of year is to make a vibrant pitcher of Sangria – lovely for sipping on the patio or by the fire as the chill sets in.
When you feel safe to go back to tasting in person, visit the Panther Creek Cellars tasting room in Woodinville. On nice days, you can taste in their outdoor tasting space. Panther Creek is an Oregon winery specializing in Pinot Noir, which offers a fun alternative to the typical Woodinville fare.
Make sure to check your favorite wineries social media pages and website to see what virtual events they are hosting. With all the restrictions on traveling right now, virtual wine tastings can transport us to any wine region in the world from the comfort of our own homes.
- 1 bottle Pinot Noir such as Panter Creek Winemaker's Cuvee
- 1/2 cup Calvados apple brandy
- 1 cup Apple Cider
- 1 Apple (Honeycrisp) cored, sliced thin
- 1 Orange sliced thin in half circles
- 1 Pear (Bosc) cored, sliced thin
- Mix all ingredients together in a large container with lid or pitcher. Chill for at least 2 hours.
- Fill a glass with ice, pour Sangria over ice, and garnish with apple & pear slices, and a slice of orange. The apple slice will be the best boozy apple you've ever tasted!