Virtual Reality had, until recently largely been in the gaming and gambling consumer segment, followed by proliferation of 360 degree videos. Today, we can see many positive externalities happening in different spheres. We read how VR is seen as beneficial to health sector, banking industries, tourism, science, schools etc. It is a definite fact that this technology is moving to the mainstream. The likes of Audi, Coca-Cola and even The New York Times are all using VR for visual marketing, but what about matching Virtual Reality and the reality itself?
Just as GoPro and YouTube achieved a symbiotic relationship, propelling both companies to the new heights, VR is being seen as a new marketing tool for our food obsessed society. Wine tastings are usually provided in most of the wineries thorough the world. The harvest season typically falls between August & October in the Northern Hemisphere and February & April in the Southern Hemisphere. The problem with attending a wine harvest is a requirement to travel, sometimes great distances. Wine tasting requires you to put on your clothes and leave the house. Or does it? Sometimes we all just want to be lazy wine connoisseurs and taste some wines in our cosy homes. Thanks to the Internet, anything is possible.
For some virtual reality tours you have to leave the comforts of your home. There’s a plus – you get to enjoy food/music festivals. The VR smartphone tour, with the use of special headsets, provides users with the sense of physically standing within the grounds of some wineries. First one that started such virtual tours was Brancott Estate winery, who launched a VR multisensory experience as part of its Red Shed pop-up, which is touring UK festivals last year.
This experience brings people, via an Oculus Rift headset, to the birthplace of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand. The experience takes viewers on a vineyard tour with multisensory elements, which means a good old fashioned wine tasting session while within the headset. The company had appointed Found Studio – which also worked on the Rift ‘Room’ project – to work on the experience.
Matthew Clark Ltd is the UK’s leading drinks distributor to pubs, restaurants and hotels. They also created a virtual reality experience for their generator bar at a series of #UnCovered events across the UK.
A “virtual vineyard” wine tasting experience was created by Fourth Reality, using two Samsung GearVR’s that transport you to a beautiful sunny vineyard. In the virtual vineyard and winery, you could see three unlabeled wine bottles on a table in front of you. There are given hints and tips by way of pop-ups about each wine and you are then asked to taste two different wines in a blind taste test. You are then entered into a draw to wine a case of wine. Over the five events held nationwide, there was great excitement over the virtual reality experience with many people keen to try it out.
This combination has a definite potential for growth. It can help with the learning process (for the sommeliers and wine experts) as well as with the people who just want to experience something new. If you’re alergic to dust and muld, an on-site visit to the winery won’t be a pleasant experience. However, there is a still room for improvement but I sure would like to try some cold harvest Gewurtztraminer, in some cold old castle basement, learn everything about the wine, and then after the tasting – surf the waves in Bali.