One wine expert in Lyon is sharing her knowledge with the world through video calls, social media and YouTube
Running a tourism business has long been an attractive, profitable and enjoyable option for those moving to France but with travel restricted for the time being, expats are finding creative new ways develop their work.
One such expat is Caroline Conner who moved to Lyon in 2017 and began running English speaking wine tastings for tourists in her apartment.
Since the lockdown Caroline has taken her tastings online, inviting attendees to BYOB (bring your own bottle) with no judgment on whichever wine they have access to and want to taste. Over a video call on Zoom, Caroline shares her tasting techniques and helps customers discover and understand the complexities of the wine in their glass. She is also working on developing an online wine course.
We asked Caroline a few questions about adjusting to life in lockdown in France.
What has the lockdown been like where you are in Lyon?
I moved out of my apartment to live with my boyfriend for the quarantine and his neighbourhood is very quiet. I’ve been back to the Croix-Rousse area where my apartment is a couple times and it’s certainly quieter than usual too, but many of the food shops are open for limited hours and numbers, so that’s good to see.
Why did you start the virtual wine tastings?
The goal for my virtual tastings is to spread some solidarity, but also to build my network. It has been clear from the get-go that tourism will be greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, so I am launching an online wine course aimed at beginners very soon. I’ve thrown myself into that, created a Facebook group about wine and even started a YouTube series! It’s all about the real questions people have and real answers to them, I’m very excited about it. Next week is about wine serving temperature, and I think I will ruffle a few feathers.
How does wine tasting work without you selecting the wine?
It’s much easier than I thought it would be! I keep the groups small, but ultimately the process of examining a wine is the same regardless of the wine.
What has the reaction to the sessions been?
People love it! It’s very fun and social, and it gives people some intimate time with a wine expert to ask all the questions they’ve never had the chance to ask before. I’m all about accessibility and being non-judgmental. It’s a safe place to ask questions without being scoffed at.
Do you think you will keep up the zoom tastings when the lockdown is over?
I will certainly be developing my business through online wine education. I love my real-life tastings and will be here when the tourists come back. My online wine course is really becoming exciting though, and I can’t wait to share it with the world!
Is there anything else you are doing that is helping you get through the crisis?
I’m cooking a lot and baking like everybody. Finally nailed that sourdough! Being so busy bringing my brick & mortar online is keeping me busy enough to not read the news, but I take time each evening to relax with my boyfriend. We are watching lots of TV and are enjoying it!
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