Winemaking regions such as Napa Valley and Bordeaux are tentatively reopening to visitors. But, if you’re unable to travel to vineyards just yet, these online wine tastings—and the tasting kits that they’ll deliver to you in person—are a great way to sample fine fare from home. Here, we highlight five virtual tastings from California and beyond.
Join a Food and Wine Tasting Series
Nestled in the Rutherford area of California’s Napa Valley, St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery (owned by fashion label Chanel) is renowned for its sustainability, exacting practices, and exceptional wines. And through its InJoy at Home virtual tastings, you don’t have to visit in person to savor its 100 percent estate-grown varietals of Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and red Bordeaux.
Grouped into themed series of six sessions, the tastings explore the story of a different wine each week, as well as recipes to pair with your favorite libations. Upcoming series will focus on entertaining at home by pairing wine with food meant for sharing, or creating warming, wine-worthy winter dishes for when the nights draw in.
Hosted by St. Supéry’s CEO Emma Swain, winemaker Michael Scholz, and estate chef Tod Kawachi, alongside special guests, these convivial online gatherings take place via Zoom every Thursday at 3pm and 5:30pm PT. You’ll simply need to order a tasting pack—consisting of six of the estate’s wines—and register to take part.
Go One-on-One with a Rising Star
St. Helena is one of Napa Valley’s most historic locations—it’s where California’s first female vintner, Josephine Marlin Tychson, started making wine in 1886. Today, it’s also home to AXR, whose winemaker Jean Hoefliger honed his skills in his native Switzerland, and has been deemed “Napa’s rising star” by Wine Spectator. AXR’s private tasting sessions aim to “help you stay connected to the ones near and dear to you by creating a virtual space to laugh, celebrate, and enjoy life.”
Once you’ve set up your virtual tasting via the online platform of your choice, you’ll receive a selection of wines, curated by AXR’s experts to suit your palate, along with virtual tasting notes. You can invite friends to join you online and make it a more sociable virtual experience, or keep it intimate with your partner.
Sample the Creations of a Wine Prodigy
Jesse Katz is something of a celebrity in the Californian wine scene. He was the first winemaker to be included in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list. His Devil Proof is the highest-rated Californian Malbec ever. He even created a custom wine for pop icon Justin Timberlake’s wedding to Jessica Biel in 2012.
Now, Katz’s acclaimed Aperture winery in Healdsburg, Sonoma County—which he established in 2009 to grow Bordeaux varietals in cool-climate vineyards—is offering personalized online tasting sessions. You’ll be guided through a curated tasting flight selected from Aperture’s barrel-fermented white wines, Bordeaux blends, and single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons.
Alternatively, you can indulge in a personal online cooking experience with chef Douglas Keane and a wine-tasting demonstration with Katz himself. It’s for a good cause, too, with 50 percent of the proceeds donated to a fund to support those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Learn from a Leading Sommelier
Chicago-based sommelier Michael Bottigliero, also known as Windy City Wine Guy, is a consummate guide to the world of wine. With more than a decade in the tastings game, he is now holding private virtual sessions through his Bottles Nation consultancy.
The one-hour events can accommodate parties of one to 100 in different virtual locations, with each receiving four bottles of wine, as well as tasting sheets beforehand. They’re available seven days a week, so simply choose a date and time that suits you.
As Bottles Nation isn’t connected with any specific wineries, the sommeliers are free to focus on sharing their true favorites. And if wine isn’t quite your style, there are whiskey, beer, and mixology tastings on offer too—giving you plenty of choice.
Join a Laid-Back Wine Class from France
Hailing from California, but based in Lyon, France, gregarious wine educator Caroline Conner has more than a decade of experience in the trade. Although her fledgling in-person wine-tastings business is on hold, she’s stayed busy: not only has she started a YouTube channel, she’s taken to Zoom to host “snobbery-free” virtual classes—a series she’s named Wine Dine Caroline.
With a no-nonsense, accessible approach, this wine-tasting is fun, inclusive, and ideal for novices. And although Connor can advise you on which wines to buy beforehand, you don’t have to make a special purchase—any wine of your choice will do, simply email her with details of what you’re drinking ahead of time, and she’ll prepare for any questions you may have. You might even get a glimpse of her splendidly chic studio apartment during your session. It’s certain to make you wish you could be there in person.
Banner image: Courtesy of St. Supéry Estate Vineyards and Winery