Q&A with Taylor Simpson, Aurora Cellars and Good Harbor Vineyards

Taylor Simpson of Aurora Cellars (Photos courtesy of Aurora Cellars/Megan Simpson)

Aurora Cellars is among wineries turning to virtual tastings during Michigan’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Here, Taylor Simpson, co-owner of Aurora Cellars and Good Harbor Vineyards, talks about the tastings Aurora is hosting April 15, 22 and 29 at 6:30 p.m. Aurora’s are designed around a three-pack — their 2017 Pinot Grigio, Luminous and the 2016 Blaufrankisch — with one being tasted each of the three weeks.

Q. First, tell us what the past several weeks have been like for your operations?
A. In the tasting room, it’s been pretty quiet (laughs). We have actually seen an uptick in online orders, so we’ve definitely changed our efforts and our focus to trying to reach our customers and new customers online. We’re reaching out to our newsletter customers, keeping them informed — just trying to keep them engaged and offer them experiences if they can’t come enjoy the experiences in the tasting room.

Aurora Cellars winemaker Drew Perry

Q. How did the idea of a virtual tasting come up?
A. Actually, it was Megan (Simpson’s) idea. She’s my brother (Sam’s) wife. She does all of our social media for both Good Harbor and Aurora and she saw a couple wineries out in California starting to do virtual tastings as a way to engage with customers. (So we thought) why not? Let’s try it. It’s a way to get our winemaker, Drew Perry, in front of people because he is often tucked away in the cellar. And a lot of people want to engage with the winemaker. But people are home, they want to drink wine, so why not use the opportunity to teach them about Aurora and our products? We decided to make it a three-week series because we didn’t want people to open three bottles in one night.

Aurora Cellars will feature one wine each week for three weeks of virtual tastings.

Q. Tell us about the virtual tasting.
A. We’re doing a virtual tasting on our Instagram account @auroracellars. It’s going to be live, starting at 6:30 April 15, and in the first one, Drew will be talking about our 2017 Pinot Grigio. He’s going to talk about the vintage and growing conditions and winemaking style, and about the story of Aurora and our brand and philosophy. … Consumers who are participating will also have the ability to send questions via Instagram, live time.

Q. What are you expecting out of it?
A. We’re hoping that people tune in and are interested in what Drew has to say about the wines and may be inspired to purchase.

Q. What are you most hopeful about (after the stay-at-home order is lifted)?
A. I think people are going to have a new appreciation for socializing and they’re going to be excited to go out. I guess that’s what I’m most hopeful for and excited about. Truly, I’m excited to open for business and to be able to go to restaurants and to talk with customers, to talk with buyers, to go out to eat, to go to playgrounds with our kids and just resume everyday life.

See related story here.

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