Napa Winery uses lessons from Covid on how technology can take wine hospitality to the next level

As beautiful outdoor weddings, charity events and meaningful birthdays return in droves to Napa Valley, it’s making people forget that a pandemic ever existed. Chris Kajani, winemaker and general manager of chine Vineyards & Winery, noted that everything is off its regular schedule because it’s hard to determine when Napa Valley has its peak season these days, as major life events have been put on hold “for two years.” There was a time when California was on a rollercoaster of closing and opening because no one had faced a pandemic in modern times, and so it was impossible to balance, sometimes, protecting people’s health while maintaining a healthy economy Go. When many wineries struggled to stay engaged with their customers, Bouchaine was one of the first to jump into the virtual tasting space offering their long-time customers, as well as potential future customers, a great experience that could make them feel connected to the outside world and bring some much-needed indulgence to their homes.

Bouchaine sits in an enchanting corner of the cooler climatic region of carneros in Napa Valley, with breathtaking views that bring the magic of Napa to life. Before Covid, Bouchaine was a popular place to visit as it is a sanctuary where one feels away from the more frenetic parts of Napa, surrounded by vines and trees and very little else, yet sipping a delicious Pinot Noir on a terrace that overlooks San Pablo Bay with San Francisco in the background. Since Carneros has cooler temperatures, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay thrive in this Napa area, with Bouchaine also producing a few small bottlings of Riesling, Syrah, and Pinot Meunier, as well as other varieties. Yet each bottling is small since Bouchaine’s total production is only around 5,000 cases of wine.

You would therefore think that a winery with such a small production, which is not found in all restaurants and retail stores, and which is known for its more intimate property that many wine lovers like to visit, would have a hard time during these two years of Covid.

Yet they found great success in virtual tastings that brought together friends, strangers and colleagues in different formats that were either aimed at businesses, current customers or people who wanted to learn about Bouchaine wines, and even the days days gone by, they find that these virtual tastings are an integral part of their welcome offers.

Taste of technology

There is a wide selection of virtual tastings offered by Bouchaine, including basic wine courses, wine pairings, collaborations with the Philadelphia Orchestra and, of course, personalized experiences, but he brings a technological experience. multi-faceted with its Taste of Technology tours.

Taste of Technology tours have become hybrid events where companies can bring a group from their company to the actual winery, to enjoy their beautiful grounds while bringing in other employees from other parts of the country and thus those colleagues from New York can be introduced virtually and enjoy Bouchaine’s 4K camera system which brings the vivid colors and overall experiences to life. And there’s no need for an employee to worry about having to know wine, or having no experience of consuming expensive bottles, or potentially unhealthy co-worker competition created on that tour, because the Taste of Technology tour aims to bring everyone to one of the most humble aspects of winemaking, Mother Nature.

And so, not only does technology help to connect everyone from afar, but it brings another fascinating aspect with Bouchaine Cisco sensor technology which will follow the vines block by block in the vineyards and will use reliable data on temperature, light, humidity, wind and soil moisture to help guide the Bouchaine team to make ideal choices for the vines block by block. Discussing how Cisco soil moisture probes work in the Bouchaine vineyards is particularly relevant to concerns about climate change, as water has become a “critical” and scarce resource in California. Chris says that since 2015 they have discovered that their property receives enough water for high quality viticulture and that they can grow dry most of the time excluding their old vines. But when it comes to severe drought years, like last year in 2021, they need to have a much clearer view of which blocks need to be irrigated and which are doing well with continued agriculture. dry as they realize there could be a significant difference between the blocks right next to each other in regards to their water requirements.

And so when Chris and his team set up these tech tasting tours, there’s no need to worry about not knowing enough, because everyone, even Chris and his team, are learning from more and more every day about how different factors can affect vineyards and ultimately shape what you taste in the glass.

How it made a group feeling

As companies begin to strike a balance when it comes to getting people back to work, possibly dealing with hybrid experiences of part-time at home and part-time at the office, employees are coming back with a greater sense of purpose. ’emphasize their mental well-being over the ruthless goals of climbing the corporate ladder. As many have found they can avoid the toxic elements from certain work environments such as humiliation, fear or unhealthy competition becoming a detriment to performance, therefore these workers feel that they could stay with the same company for the long term and still maintain a happy and full disposition of hope. Of course, many lose key elements of working with in-person colleagues by not having the same sense of belongingor that there is something bigger they are a part of, and indeed there are lost opportunities for emotional growth as a professional who can witness how senior employees handle various situations.

The idea of ​​any harmonious work environment is to ensure that everyone’s strengths are showcased as advantages for the company and that weaknesses are not shameful but part of everyone’s journey. A place that lacks intimidation but is empowering in a fun and wonderful way that makes employees want to know more. It’s what Bouchaine, pre-Covid, had always been in Napa, a safe, friendly place to learn about killer Napa Pinot Noir in Carneros with a magical view that knocks socks off. Yes the wines are fantastic but the place would make a group of people feel like they belonged, they were part of something bigger than themselves without any of the baggage of feeling inferior that sometimes comes with fine wine tastings.

And as Bouchaine had more technology tools in place to take them to the next level during Covid, they are now able to empower companies to create authentic team building experiences by avoiding clichéd exercises and to the place of putting people in a situation where they are all on an equal footing, learning something that brings them so much pleasure and realizing that at the end of this beautiful day, when the sunset creates a beautiful golden aura on the vines, everyone has the power to create a better working environment; an environment where each person is empowered to perform at their best, knowing that they are an essential part of the success of this business.

The Bouchaine Pinot Noir wines below come from three different clones, as different Pinot Noir clones will have nuanced differences from each other that are fun to discover in the bottlings below.

2019 Bouchaine ‘Swan Clone’ Estate Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley: 100% Pinot Noir from the Swan Clone. The Swan Clone Pinot Noir lives up to its name with an overall elegance and delicacy in its texture with a floral nose, fresh black cherries and hints of crushed rocks. It is magnificent in its subtle beauty.

2019 Bouchaine ‘Pommard Clone’ Estate Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley: 100% Pommard Clone Pinot Noir. Chris talked about the creamier texture of the Pommard, and it was visible in this vintage with a rich yet energetic texture with spicy notes and bright red cherry flavors. Delicious.

2019 Bouchaine ‘Dijon Clone’ Estate Pinot Noir, Carneros, Napa Valley: 100% Pinot Noir from Dijon Clone. Tantalizing acidity comes from Dijon Pinot Noir and fierce minerality with finely etched tannins that provide more structure than the previous two Pinot Noir clone wines and plenty of fresh, crisp red fruit on the palate. Multi-layered wine. Chris says she always loves to hear her customers talk about their favorite of these three Pinot Noir clone wines, and it’s often evenly balanced when it comes to votes.

Elisha A. Tilghman