How Whitebarrel Maximized Tasting Room Efficiency

Why wouldn’t you want to serve four times the number of guests with roughly half the staff? It’s an efficiency expert’s dream.

That’s what Whitebarrel Winery owner Dr. Rik Obiso said the Christiansburg, Virginia winery is able to do after adapting its wine tasting format from the traditional personalized wine tasting that was the standard bearer prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Prior to COVID, I would have said that personalized wine tastings were absolutely essential to the winery experience,” Obiso said. “However, we’ve adapted to the new normal. Now we use a paddle board (think beer flight) to provide wine tastings and our guests can take the wine back to a table and read or watch a description of the wine.”

“The customer is then able to taste the wine in a relaxed (and safer) atmosphere and does not need to feel rushed or worried about being exposed to germs at the bar.”  

Obiso said they conducted a small customer survey to make sure they were on the right track, and the results backed their approach. 

The new method is very likely here to stay, he added.

“We will likely never go back to doing tastings at the bar,” Obiso said.I

Obiso said important aspects of Whitebarrel’s tasting room also include the inclusion of a small food menu to enhance the experience of the winery and a new system of serving guests wine and food.  

“We’ve adopted a ‘Panera’ approach,” he explained. “We use the buzzer system and let guests come to the bar to pick up their orders and they bus their tables when they are ready to depart.”

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