Zoom happy hours were rampant last March but cooled off once we all realized we shouldn’t be plowing through a bottle of wine every night. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still occasions for hitting the vino in front of the webcam again.
Crystal Basin Cellars, located in Camino and with a tasting room in Folsom, offers wine-blending sessions with its winemaker/owner, Mike Owens. Participants are mailed a half bottle of each of his varietal wines along with a graduated cylinder, then follow along with Owens over Zoom as he offers instructions on how to make and tweak a blend. “Everybody’s taste is so individual that the blending allows people to bring out what they really like,” he says.
Likewise, Casino Mine Ranch, a Plymouth-based winery, has found a way to keep people tippling on Zoom while still offering a unique experience. It’s gone beyond virtual tastings to offer a series of cookalongs, which recently saw Casino Mine pairing its wines with fried chicken as taught by chef N’Gina Guyton of South and pizza by Brad Cecchi of Canon. The winery ships the wine and the recipes, and participants source the ingredients, then hop on Zoom.
“There’s something special about it being in the comfort of your own home,” says Mackenzie Cecchi, Casino Mine’s chief of staff. “It feels really good to get together on this weird level and get our hands dirty.”