COVID-19 has affected virtually all industries, with the service and hospitality sectors taking an exceptional hit. With restaurants, bars, and pubs all being closed to the public for indoor dining, pick-up, take-out, and delivery services have been expanding and adapting at a rapid pace to keep these establishments from closing their doors for good. Like their food-based counterparts, breweries and wineries have also been impacted by “Safer at Home” policies, fighting hard to stay operational. Most are trying their best to offer ship-to-home services in lieu of tastings and tours, but will these efforts alone be enough?
Certain wineries don’t think so, and are finding creative ways to appeal to a larger audience and keep their operations afloat. Lakewood Vineyards, an award-winning winery located in the Finger Lakes region of New York, decided to use this unprecedented opportunity to engage with their potential customers in a much more personal way. While they can only have 10 folks in their establishment at a time, they can virtually visit the homes of hundreds of their loyal fans and followers. The founding family and winery staff have taken to social media with not one, but two different Facebook video series focused on Lakewood wine and food pairings. These efforts, partnered with their limited in-person services, have allowed them to offer wine pairing advice for take-out fare, made-at-home meals, and pick-up grub.
Wine Pairing for Take-Out
Much like many of us who are ordering in food from apps, the Take-Out Pairings series was created to support local restaurants and offer up suggestions for exceptional wine pairing for each category of takeout. Each video features different members of the Lakewood team and focuses on a new local establishment. So far, they have covered pub favorites, BBQ, vegetarian meals, and brunch! While their recommendations are tailored to their vintages, viewers could choose to substitute any winery’s bottle of the same variety.
Wine Pairing for Made-At-Home
On the off chance that you’re not looking to pair delicious wines with local eats, then Cook + Cork may be more your style. In this weekly, Chopped-style cooking show, Lakewood staff members face-off to create a unique meal to pair with a specific Lakewood wine, using required ingredients that come from local businesses. Each chef is competing for the coveted Golden Spoon, and winners are decided via popular vote after each episode airs. It has proven to be a fun, feel-good way to learn about different wines from various members of the staff, and learn a thing or two about what foods you could cook up at home to pair Lakewood wines with. Plus, we love that it is supporting other area businesses that have been hit by COVID.
Wine Pairing for Pick-Up
Some businesses still allow in-store pick-up of food and beverage, and Lakewood Vineyards falls under that category. If you’re local to the area, they’re happy to welcome you to their retail shop. While visitors can’t stay for a tasting or guided tour, they are invited to pick up a to-go lunch from a local establishment and then swing by the retail room to grab a bottle of wine personally recommended by a Lakewood steward. With New York planning phased reopening, visitors will soon be able to enjoy their food and drinks on the Lakewood grounds, too. The extensive trails and quaint gazebo will make for the perfect spot for a secluded picnic that both supports local businesses and complies with ongoing social distancing requirements.
Wine lovers don’t have to forgo delicious wine pairings just because they’re at home on lockdown. Thanks to Lakewood Vineyard’s efforts, wine enthusiasts everywhere can get virtual advice on how to pair wine with take-out classics and how to match home-made meals with their favorite varietals. Local customers even get on-the-spot advice on which bottle to enjoy with their take-out.
Are you a winery looking to keep your sales booming despite COVID-19? Take a page from Lakewood Vineyards’ book and start creating virtual content that’s informative, fun, and timely! This is a unique opportunity to meet the ever-changing needs of winery audiences everywhere. How will you do it?
Article by Matt Salvadore representing Lakewood Vineyards