Monday, December 5, 2022

Sustainable Sipping: This Platform Brings French Wine Tours to You

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A new platform focused on sustainable and organic wine makes visiting a winery easier than ever—you don’t even have to leave the house.

Direct-to-consumer wine sales skyrocketed during the pandemic. And a new platform aims to keep that going, by promoting the importance of sustainable and organic winemaking—by bringing the vineyard to you.

Winery tours were among the hardest hit during the pandemic, according to WineTourism.com. A survey conducted earlier this year estimated visitor drops at more than 70 percent of wineries since the pandemic started.

But while physical visits may have declined, demand for wine skyrocketed during the pandemic—direct-to-consumer wine club Winc says its member sign ups increased 578 percent week on week, adding 20,000 new members since the start of the pandemic, according to Forbes. According to Nielsen data, off-premise wine sales in the U.S. have increased nearly 30 percent. More than 36 percent of wineries in the survey reported adding online tasting opportunities since the pandemic.

Just like our love of sweatpants, home offices, and food delivery apps may be the new normal even post-pandemic, new wine platform, VIVANT, wants us to rethink our wine-tasting in more ways than one.

VIVANT wines

While little else rivals a warm afternoon touring wineries, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Michael Baum thinks we can adapt that model and make for better wine experiences, all without leaving the comforts of home.

The VIVANT platform was dreamed up by Baum after becoming the first American owner of an 18th-century wine château in Burgundy. Baum converted the winery to organic and biodynamic viticulture—a three-year process. Its Clos Marey-Monge wines were the first vintage wines to achieve organic certification.

Image courtesy VIVANT

VIVANT says it brings the best wines of the world to consumers allows them to “travel the world of wine without leaving home…without the carbon footprint, cost and hassle of physical travel.”  

While a return to travel is likely at the top of the list for many of us after more than 18 months in lockdown, that carbon footprint issue has become a bigger consideration than ever before. Lockdown highlighted how quickly emissions can be reduced be decreasing activity. Even Google is now helping consumers to travel more consciously than pre-pandemic with its new eco hotel finder and sustainable map route options.

Sustainable wine production

But when it comes to that bottle of wine, finding a sustainable option isn’t as easy.

“Only 3% of global wine production is organic,” Baum told Forbes. “Viticulture is a monoculture reliant on conventional farming that depletes the earth’s soils, creates dangerous runoff, and contributes unnecessarily to global warming.”

VIVANT hopes to change that.

The VIVANT customer tasting kit features six wine samples—either organic or biodynamic. This, the company says, helps customers improve their “wine-tasting skills” and helps them to better identify their preferences. There’s enough for two people to share and try a variety of wine types.

Image courtesy VIVANT

After receiving the kit, the customer visits the website where VIVANT’s expert wine advisors educate the customer about the region, growing methods, and winemaking processesm. The platform features photography and maps—allowing for a virtual tour.

Current regions on the platform include Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace, Loire, Champagne, and Provence, and Italy and Spain are forthcoming.

And after the tasting and tour, you can buy the wine you like from the platform, as most aren’t likely to be available at your local wine shop.

“It’s difficult for the voices of organic winemakers to be heard,” says Baum. “Big wine owns the industry communications and messaging. Leveraging technology is the way for responsible producers to have an outsized impact on the industry and its future.”

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