As Baldacci Family Vineyards prepares to unveil its brand-new Stags Leap District visitor facility in spring 2021, employees of the family-owned estate winery and its fans have discovered the vitality of the virtual world.

“It has been so inspiring to witness people’s true enjoyment of the virtual format,” said Kellie Duckhorn, Baldacci’s general manager, who hosts several of the themed sessions each week. Vintner Michael Baldacci and Quinn Kraft, the winery’s director of hospitality and membership, each host additional sessions. “People are really responding and  are  excited  to  taste  with us in what ironically ends up being a more intimate experience, and we are having a blast. We’ve taken part in surprise birthday celebrations; we’ve spent time with longtime Baldacci fans as well as those who are  new to the brand, and we are helping wine lovers forge relationships with us.”

Current virtual offerings, conducted via Zoom, include ‘Food & Wine’ (Duckhorn discusses the basics of food and wine pairing strategies), ‘Cheese, Please’ (Duckhorn educates on this classic pairing),  ‘Wine with Friends’ (Kraft introduces partici- pants to Baldacci’s varied wines), and ‘Meet Michael’ (a conversation with Baldacci’s 2nd generation vintner).

Wines for each session can be purchased directly from the winery, and many of the varietals can be found at Total Wine & More. “My daughters teamed-up and  scheduled my first Baldacci virtual tasting for my birthday, and I liked it so much that we put one together for my sister-in-law,  who  lives in Chicago,” said Pete Belknap, a Baldacci member since 2007. “I had attended virtual tastings at other wineries  and found that Baldacci was more educational. If you go to the winery for a tasting, you are there with other people, which is great fun, but you cannot generally get into the details of the wines. With Baldacci’s virtual tasting, we were able to spend quality, one-on-one time, and receive far more information not only about the wines but about food pairings as well.”

Baldacci plans to continue the virtual sessions even after their new hospitality center opens to visitors. The Napa Green certified winery underwent a complete remodel of its winemaking facility, tasting room, and patio. Designed by Douglas Thornley of Gould Evans, Baldacci’s agrarian-esque, Dutch dairy farm design is warm, welcoming,  and the perfect setting for learning about Baldacci’s estate-grown varietals.  But for those who cannot readily visit, virtual is the way to go.

“Virtual has proven to be a solid sales channel for us,” said Duckhorn, who, as part of the Duckhorn wine family, was raised within the industry in which she has worked her entire life. “Virtual is real.”




Article By: Fran Miller