As many restaurants/bars have tried to reimagine their business model during COVID-19, I thought I would share how one Brisbane winery that started offering virtual experiences during the pandemic has unexpectedly tapped into a new market during the coronavirus pandemic that will impact its future business strategy.

City Winery introduced virtual food and wine pairings and cheese/wine packages for at home blending workshops as a way to keep some kind of business going during Australia’s lockdown. Most of the workshops include a Skype or Zoom session with a Winemaker or Group Sommelier along with follow up video content along the way.

But, what co-founder Adam Penberthy never expected was that it would actually result in a huge jump in revenue.

“While COVID-19 has brought so much disaster and I don’t want to understate that, for us as a business, it has resulted in an unexpected positive outcome,” he said. “With the virtual experiences we have been offering during COVID-19, our sales are up more than 300% than what we previously did with the exact same experiences at the winery.”

As a result, City Winery has not only been able to keep all of its staff employed through the pandemic, but they are adapting their business strategy and looking at international destinations where they can implement a similar strategy. Initially, this will include expansion into Asia where they will also transfer videos into Mandarin with one of the staff members who is fluent in the language.

City Winery Brisbane is a working micro-winery sourcing grapes from across Australia’s key growing regions, bringing them to the city where Winemaker Dave Cush creates the wine.  Prior to City Winery’s opening in  2019, the last time Brisbane had an inner-city winery was 1860, nearly 160 years ago.

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