Written by: Margaret Steffie, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
2020 changed the wine industry like it did many other industries, but due to being in my very own Finger Lakes Wine Region bubble, I was very surprised by how the industry as a whole was impacted. When the pandemic hit, the wine industry expected a negative impact; individuals were no longer able to socialize in large groups or go to restaurants and support the industry through buying a couple of bottles. Yet the insane number of people I saw purchasing wine at the wine and spirits store next to the café where I build my business, as well as the larger than normal crowds that were present at the winery where I intern and many other local wineries, led me to believe this was the new normal in the wine industry.
While this may be the new normal for the Finger Lakes as we are 4-5 hours outside of New York City and not far from many cities in Pennsylvania and Ohio, this was definitely not the new normal for the wine industry across the board.
The wine industry, a previously face-to-face kind of industry where many are introduced to their new favorite bottle, at a restaurant, at a friend’s house, or during a wine tasting, has had to learn to pivot and find new and functional ways to join the e-commerce space. Now wineries have solidified their online ordering systems and are offering virtual tastings where they ship you the bottles. Sommeliers are having to promote themselves more on social media and create partnerships, collaborations, and events in the online and virtual space. This has led to an increase in wine’s social media presence as well as a boom in online wine platforms that aim to make it easier than ever to find the right wine for you while having the opportunity to try wines from around the world.
And while these are new, exciting avenues that provide those in the wine industry more accessible to the consumer, they miss one of the extremely vital aspects that wine provides: the social connection. Wine beyond being a delicious item to sip all year round is, is something to be enjoyed with others. As the pandemic has taken much of this in-person connection away, this is where wineries have gotten innovative in providing the offerings they have been offering for the entirety of their existence in new formats. Wineries and wine businesses are now offering virtual wine tastings, or are partnering with individuals like myself to offer virtual or in-person events like my Sweat and Sip. The Sweat and Sip is a 90-minute fitness, health, and wine event that is broken down into a 30-minute fitness class followed by a 60-minute wine tasting. I touch on multiple areas of health improvement as I bring my group through a fitness class, and then into the education and games that make up a wine tasting. It brings people together in a new way while still providing that human connection most individuals are really craving.
While presently there might be less human connection during a glass of wine, the occasions when it is consumed has morphed to more frequently celebrating, or treating, every little thing with and in particular doing so with a glass of bubbly in hand. Wines such as champagne, prosecco, cava, and even force carbonated have graduated from being just for big celebratory events to becoming the go-to afternoon or evening drink. Could this mean a growth in the bubbly industry to further satisfy the curiosities of this new group of individuals? While I cannot say, it very well could be possible that this area grows this year.
As health has been a huge topic this past year, and individuals have become more aware of what they are putting in their body. This has increased interest in organic, biodynamic, and natural wines. And from recent research, these areas will indeed increase; they provide unique flavor profiles due to their low intervention methodologies.
And finally, the question of sustainability in the wine industry is one that is evolving. With lockdowns, the change in people’s mentalities due to pandemic, and the new regulations that establishments such as wineries have to follow, there are questions on how to successfully sustain their businesses. Many have had to pivot or vary their forms of income in order to keep themselves afloat, and to sustain their business for the years to come, regardless of what the world throws at them.
My wine and health business pivoted this year. I have shifted from in-person events to offering my virtual Sweat and Sips. It provides me the sustainability and fulfillment I desire using e-commerce as well as new and old formats. How I teach a fitness class hasn’t changed, much, but a virtual wine tasting is a little less intimate and a little more entertaining and educational; I have been faced with having to learn how to entertain differently than when I behind the bar pouring their glass. The same information is still conferred, but in a slightly different way, and with this I am creating more streams down which my success can flow.
If you want to see for yourself, click the link below to join me on a Wine Wednesday Sweat and Sip. recess.tv/with/@Grapes-and-Gains
Margaret Steffie, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Margaret Steffie is a health and fitness coach who specializes in working with busy young individuals to help them reach all of their health and fitness goals. With Margaret’s holistic approach she works to get to the root of the problem which allows the individual to learn more deeply about themselves and make a lasting behavior change. Margaret is also the host of the podcast Margaret’s Healthy Hour and the author of F*ck the Freshman 15 (August 2021). When Margaret is not coaching she can be found training for running races, lifting weights in the gym, teaching group fitness classes, in person and on Recess), or spending time with her dogs.