Bel Vino pivots to emerging digital wine industry landscape

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Bel Vino Winery will host a virtual tasting event with master winemaker George Bursick Thursday, May 7. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Bel Vino Winery is making moves to ensure they can continue to make money during this trying time for wineries in the Temecula Valley.

Like many other wineries all over the state and country, because of the coronavirus they are ratcheting up their digital game by creating a better e-commerce platform for wine sales and will be hosting a virtual wine tasting event with master winemaker George Bursick Thursday, May 7.

Bursick is one of the most accomplished winemakers in California. A Sonoma County native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in botany – plant physiology at Humboldt State University and a master’s degree in enology from the University of California Davis.

Bursick has made outstanding wines as head winemaker for some of California’s biggest wineries, including more than 20 years at Ferrari-Carano, taking that winery from startup to 500,000 cases per year.

He has won many prestigious awards from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Wine Spectator Magazine and many more.

Bel Vino Winery general manager Ericka Batiz said their move to boost online wine sales capabilities have helped the winery weather the coronavirus storm to an extent. Valley News/Courtesy photo

“Basically, we’re closed down,” Erika Batiz, general manager at Bel Vino Winery, said. “We’ve been trying to pivot a lot with more online sales. We have a whole new robust, faster website that we’ve been using.

“And we’ve noticed with the shutdown, especially in Northern California, they’ve been doing a lot of live wine tasting events on Facebook.”

Batiz and Bursick will be live on Facebook at 6 p.m. May 7 to taste and talk wine, as well as discuss the winery’s latest releases. Featured in the livestream will be the newly released Butterfly Effect Cabernet Sauvignon, Butterfly Effect Rosé and Cabernet Franc. Also discussed during the talk will be Butterfly Effect Blend, Chardonnay and Dolce Semi-Sweet Red.

“Having been a part of the Bel Vino family for nearly five years, I am pleased at how our customers and wine club members have accepted our classic, old world winemaking techniques and the resulting premium wine quality,” Batiz said. “Bel Vino continues to find innovative ways to serve our members and enhance our wine offerings and services. This collaboration with George Bursick will provide you a relaxing and informative session to learn more about wine and ask questions of a world-class wine expert.”

Batiz said so far, the new website has been paying off, and she has noticed a difference in sales.

“Oh my gosh, yes,” she said. “In the past, we haven’t spent a lot of time trying to promote online sales. We’ve been more focused on tasting room sales and everything going on here inside the winery. With the closing down, we have kind of put a lot of our focus on online sales and our social media posting different deals. We have had more online sales than we’ve ever had.”

Batiz said she thinks making some of these changes will be key to long-term success, considering nobody knows how the public will respond when restrictions based on the coronavirus outbreak are lifted.

“I can’t see how everything’s going to happen so quickly depending on how we’re able to pour wine and if social distancing is still an issue,” she said. “But if things were to go back to normal, I’m sure eventually we would be just as busy in the tasting room as we were before. It definitely has challenged us a lot to figure out how to make money when we’re not busy.”

For more information on the wine tasting event with Bursick and to see the package deals offered at the winery, visit https://www.belvinowinery.com or follow them on Facebook.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.