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Winemakers Are Offering Private Virtual Wine Tastings So You Can (Kind of) Visit Napa Valley

virtual wine tasting
Courtesy of Priority Wine Pass

You may still be able to get beer and other alcohol delivered to your doorstep, but social distancing removes so much of the, well, social part of drinking. It shouldn't be surprising that virtual happy hours have become a thing with which so many of us are well-acquainted. 

With about as much effort as you've put into learning to use Zoom for work, you can virtually visit a tasting room in Napa Valley to visit with a winemaker who really enjoys sampling their product. A handful of places are offering versions of this (Kendall-Jackson and Acker Wines, among others), but Priority Wine Pass is actually offering one-on-one -- you, your friends, and a winemaker -- tastings with Napa Valley wineries, like owners and winemakers at  Bridgette/Courtesan, Boeschen Vineyards, Prime Solum, Sciandri Family winery, and Modus Operandi. 

virtual wine tasting
Courtesy of Priority Wine Pass

You buy some wine from the winery, like Prime Solum's six-bottle Explore 2012 box. It gets shipped to you. You schedule a tasting with the maker. It's pretty easy, and everyone who has always wanted to go to Napa Valley but never gone is wondering what the hell took so long.

"Priority Wine Pass has built a network of 400+ winery partners in California, Oregon, and Washington," Priority's Jamie Cegelski-Gaebe told Thrillist. "Many of the wineries we work with are smaller operations that rely primarily on tourism to get by. So, with coronavirus becoming more of a threat, I wanted to find a way to help in these difficult times. Virtual tastings were something we had talked about launching in the past, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to go for it."

The options range from a $500 boxes (the Reserve Collection from Bridgette/Courtesan) to a tasting based around a single $40 bottle from Boeschen Vineyards. The single bottles are an affordable option when you're trying to bring a group of friends together and they all need to order wine for their own home. "We are having friends across the country buying the same shipment and scheduling the virtual tastings as a group," Cegelski-Gaebe said. "It’s a fun dynamic."

Like many of the best ideas implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, it's not only allowing you to do something exciting from inside your own home, but it's supporting independent small businesses in Napa Valley that have been hit hard by business closures during the outbreak. It's nice when buying wine can make you feel that good about yourself without hitting Paul Giamatti in Sideways levels of self-satisfaction.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.