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Mar 14, 2022

Post-pandemic Bordeaux: More intimate experiences and new projects

Despite not being able to receive visitors during the pandemic, many vineyards managed to create closer ties with their clients. They shared life continuing at their properties, despite the pandemic, how the vines continued to flourish and the wines to be made. This created such interest and engagement from clients they are now impatient to return. As things opened up, any visits that could take place were designed for smaller groups. With an obligation to book in advance, visitors often chose more in-depth experiences and tastings.
A more intimate approach
Château Cantenac

Like most properties, Château Cantenac in Saint Emilion opened whenever it could during the pandemic. They found guests really enjoyed the smaller, more intimate visits. The clientele was more engaged and more eager to learn, Adrienne-Jennifer Roskam-Cheung, Hospitality Manager, explained; and although visitor numbers went down, sales didn’t.

During the first lockdown, they created an online wine shop for French clients with click and collect. It became a great way to stay in touch. They also contacted all their international clients, especially those who had to cancel planned visits. A contact that led to closer relationships.

 

Château Cantenac is one of the most active Bordeaux chateaux on social media and they shared their lockdown highs and lows; the day-to-day work in the property and vineyards, medals from wine competitions,  notes and scores from wine critics, but also the heartbreak when they lost half of their crop to frost in April 2021.

 

Adrienne-Jennifer thinks their clients now know them better, thanks to the photos and videos of the family and the winery mascots; and when they come to visit now, it will be like coming back to see old friends.

 

TripAdvisor and Google Maps ratings have helped reach new clients looking to visit a small family winery and they work closely with the Saint-Emilion tourism office, travel and tourism agencies and cruise ships to ensure a steady stream of visitors.

 

Looking forward, they are communicating about future events in and around Saint Emilion: The Grandes Heures de Saint Emilion concerts, the Portes Ouvertes, the Philosophia Festival, the Hot Air Balloon Festival (Montgolfiades), etc. It gives visitors lots to look forward to and encourages them to plan their return.

Château Malescasse

Château Malescasse in Haut Medoc, also found that clients loved the small private visits and more intimate experiences. Social media, the website and the on-line shop have been important in keeping in direct touch with clients, and to continue to sell them wine of course. Through their newsletter they have been to stay in direct contact, encouraging them to return as soon as possible.

Château George 7

Sally Evans at Château George 7 in Fronsac also offers an intimate experience at the boutique property. She opened her tasting room during the pandemic, a space that includes a terrace overlooking the vines. It’s the perfect for sunset tastings and has proved to be a really successful venue for private events.

Château d’Eyran

Château d’Eyran in Pessac Léognan also concentrated on small groups. They used social media to reassure visitors, explaining their safety measures, giving them confidence to come visit and making the most of spring and summer weather to do outdoor tastings. It worked; last summer saw their visitor numbers back up. Their communication strategy built up a closer relationship, especially with a regional clientele, but Mathilde Demontpion, who looks after wine tourism and communications, is reluctant to take credit for this success. She feels clients were so happy to move around again once things opened up, they came rushing back of their own accord.

What she did find helpful were the Facebook groups and Zoom webinars between wine tourism professionals. These discussions went beyond the challenges of the pandemic and inspired them on their wine tourism journey, using this time to look at new opportunities and ideas.

The Virtual Magic
Château de Rouillac

Some properties used the pandemic to start a new adventure. Château de Rouillac launched La Maison Cisneros  (the name of the owners). It is both a real life and virtual boutique, selling wines from the property but also from Spain, Provence and Cognac and the glassware to serve it in and drink it from. They also have teas, chocolate, olive oil, jams, candles and even cosy, locally made slippers!

 

This year they are working with Rue des Vignerons to reach a new and larger audience and offer unique experiences such as Horse Coaching and the ‘Vinathlon’, a great opportunity for seminar teams to compete in fun wine-based challenges.

Château Lagrange

Château Lagrange in Saint Julien also launched new products and diversified its digital communication during the pandemic.

The team used social media in leading markets, working with their commercial partners, ambassadors and wine influencers to organise live Instagram tastings, joint posts and stories. They shipped bottles for on-line trade masterclasses with the winemakers at the chateau, tasting through their range of wines, explaining their environmental initiatives and sharing the long and fascinating history of the property.

 

They were so happy to welcome guests again in 2021, even if numbers were limited. Surprisingly, many more private individuals are contacting them for visits directly now, via the website, than before the pandemic.

They have started working with agencies such as Winetour, to share in more detail the different experiences they offer.

 

In 2020, just before the pandemic, they launched the Teppanyaki experience and fusion cooking classes with Chef Taichi. They finally got to share these in 2021 and won the Best Of d’Or in the Discovery and Innovation category.

Château Lagrange photo credits

They’ll be ready for guests in 2022, as they are updating the welcome centre and will be offering visitors a unique bottle engraving service at the property. The perfect souvenir.

 

It seems every cloud has a silver lining; where chateaux have worked hard to keep in touch, they have created much closer relationships with their clients.

Many have used this strange time to create new experiences for their guests, who are impatient to come back and try them as soon as they possibly can.

 

Wendy Narby