Cheers! Come together as Wine Spot hosts virtual happy hour for a tasting with California winemaker

It’s Friday, usually a day for celebration, as the work week winds down and people’s thoughts start drifting to happy hours at their local watering holes. But not this week, with the coronavirus forcing everyone to stay at home.

Unless you want to virtually venture over to The Wine Spot in Cleveland Heights today, Friday, March 27, at 5 p.m. when owner Adam Fleischer launches the retail wine shop and bar’s first-ever The Wine Spot Virtual Happy Hour through Ring Central video conferencing.

March 27, at 5 p.m. The Wine Spot launches it’s first-ever The Wine Spot Virtual Happy Hour wine tasting with Andrew Jones.Andrew Jones, winemaker and owner of Santa Barbara, CA-based Field Recordings winery, will lead a virtual tasting and talk about his wines, his background and the winery, and what’s going on in California right now with COVID-19.

Although he had to close the wine and craft beer bar portion of the Wine Spot, Fleischer has remained open during the pandemic by offering curbside pickup and local deliveries. “Obviously, we have a great community, and they’ve reached out to support us,” he says. He and his wife, Susan, have not had to lay off any of their eight employees. “We hope we can ride this out.”

Then Fleischer and Susan attended a virtual happy hour with some friends in Atlanta last week, when his son came up with the idea to host a virtual wine tasting in the same manner.

“[We thought], wouldn’t it be cool to get a winemaker from somewhere around the world when everybody’s on lockdown,” Fleischer says. “I reached out to a couple of suppliers, and everyone was so excited about doing it that it wasn’t hard at all.”

Jones is a relatively new winemaker, and Field Recordings is new in Ohio distributions, Fleischer says. The Wine Spot carries four of the five wines made by the winery—Chenin, Skins, Fiction, and Franc. Each sells for less than $20 a bottle.

Field Recordings specializes in natural wines, Fleischer says, which means there are no additives and very few sulfites (added for stabilization during shipping). “These wines are made with organic and biodynamic, sustainably farmed grapes, hand-picked, crushed, fermented, aged, bottled, and out [the door,]” he says. “Natural wines are a very big thing right now.”

Happy hour participants can call the store today to place their wine orders for curbside pickup or delivery. Fleischer says they have delivered all over the East Side—even as far as Chagrin Falls—and will also deliver to the West Side or anywhere in the Greater Cleveland area. Deliveries are free for now, but Fleisher says they may charge a fee for long distances.

The Wine Spot has remained open during the pandemic by offering curbside pickup and local deliveries.Today’s happy hour does not require participants to drink Field Recordings—Fleisher says uncork a bottle of your favorite and enjoy the conversation. He says he intends this event just to be a fun way to cope with the isolation the world is feeling.

“We want to make it very laid back, we want to make it fun and informal,” he says. “We want people to ask questions of the winemaker. I’m optimistic—I think this is going to be super fun.”

And he says Jones has an interesting story to share about his small winery. “It’s kind of an insider’s conversation,” he says. “Jones is a young guy, new to winemaking, new to the state of Ohio, and their wines taste good and are affordable,” he says.

Fleischer is hoping for a large turnout, and he suggest logging in to the conference page a few minutes early to let it load and update. “Be patient, give it time,” he says, adding that if there are problems, he will post a new link on Facebook. “We don’t want to overthink it. We’ll just give it a try.”

If all goes well, Fleischer says he plans to make the Friday virtual happy hours a weekly happening. “My hope is to have this every Friday at 5 while we’re all home,” he says. He is already in talks with winemakers in Italy and Portugal and plans on holding an event with CLE Urban Winery, also on Lee Road, sometime soon.

In fact, he says, a positive side to the pandemic is he’s looking into launching an e-commerce component to The Wine Spot.

“it’s been in the back of my mind to do forever, but I’m being pushed to do it now,” he says.

To place an order with The Wine Spot, email the store, and someone will call you back, or call the store directly. Fleisher says they’ve been able to provide quick turnaround times so far.

The Wine Spot Virtual Happy Hour runs from 5 to 6 p.m., Friday, March 27. Log into the Ring Central video conferencing site early to avoid problems. For questions or to place an order, call the store, 2271 Lee Road, at 216-342-3623.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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