On the 4th of July, I returned from the UK (a daring reenactment of American Independence Day ;D). I had just completed a massive UK wine tour with my UK importer Naked Wines. Looking back, I can’t believe how much fun it was.
Fun, laid back tastings
One important element of the fun is that Naked Wines doesn’t take itself too seriously. Customers could pour their own glasses of wine. This might seem like a small thing, but it’s really important. All too often, tastings get this artificial feeling where winemakers or professionals stand on one side of the table and tasters stand on the other side. This artificial divide really dampens the mood. Plus I always feel like I’m in a zoo, being stared at. And tasters often feel that they are asking permission for the wine.
I much prefer the free and open tasting where everybody’s equal. Anybody can pour a bottle. And winemakers can switch to the other side of the table if we so desire!
Innovative Formats & Weird locations
We also had fun doing weird tastings. I’ve talked about our guerilla pop up wine tastings before. The general idea is to play with the wine tasting format and spice it up. We try to make wine less scary and more fun while bringing the delicious fruits of our labor to as many new markets as possible.
And we also had some wacky locations like the Royal Arms Museum. I still think it’s a miracle nobody tried to get on a horse or swing a halberd at a winemaker.
Meeting Angels & Vineshare Owners
Another crucial part of the tour was meeting Angels. O’Vineyards couldn’t exist if it weren’t for all the support of the Naked Wines Angels. And we only know a few of them (the more talkative ones). This tour was an opportunity to meet several hundred angels whose contributions allow me to continue making wine!
Some of the angel encounters were especially exciting since we just launched our new vineyard share program. 100 Angels have rented vines near mine and are paying me to take care of the parcel and make their wines. I got to meet about a dozen of these angels in person for the first time.
There was always this terrifying moment when the investor first tasted my wine. Thankfully, they all loved it! And here’s a video commentary from one of the angels/investors who had just met me for the first time.
Meeting other winemakers
I got to meet a lot of other winemakers during the tour too. I honestly expected more violence and argument between the winemakers. But they’re all really great people to hang out with. It’s clear that Naked Wines hires based on personality as well as quality of wine. And that makes sense because ultimately, we all have to be able to interface with their clients on the website’s social network as well as in tastings like these!
It’s also cool to taste so many of the most popular wines on the site. It gives me real perspective into what angels love. And that helps inform my winemaking decisions at the vineyard.
Being Part of a Movement
Whenever I see something like this photo of some of the dadaists and constructivists in the early twentieth century all meeting together to take goofy photos… I think it must have been crazy to live at that time. To be surrounded by all that talent and energy.
Toward the end of tour, as all the winemakers and naked staff sat around the dinner table, I felt like I was living in one of those special moments. Like I’m part of a really important movement. All I’m doing is making wine, but I belong to this big group of people who might be changing the way the wine and food world work. I don’t know how important it really is, but it sure feels important.angel, naked, naked wines, o'vineyards, pop up tasting, tasting tour, uk tour, vineshare, wine tasting, wine tasting tour, wine tour