Basic Event Information
Date: October 1, 2020
Location: Gornja Radgona Slovenia and ONLINE
Client: Radgonske Gorice
Event Type: Press event
EVENT CATEGORY: DIGITAL EVENTS | Hybrid event – MULTI HUB EVENT
Event description and key objectives
Research shows the wine’s exposure to light decreases the quality of its aromas. Untouched by Light (UBL) is the world’s first sparkling wine made, sold and tasted in complete darkness. Night vision goggles are used during night harvest, bottle rotation and packaging. The bottle is 99% black and wrapped in black foil to additionally protect the wine from light and air contact. To launch this unique product by Radgonske gorice (RG) on the global market we needed wine writers all over the world, as well as RG’s international distributors, to taste the wine in order to spread the word and boost sales. But due to the pandemic, we were not able to gather them all in Gornja Radgona or anywhere else for that matter. So we decided to go online and bring the wine as well as the Untouched by Light experience to their homes. But we also invited several local journalists and partners to Radgona, as many as it was allowed due to the pandemic. So we had ourselves not one, but two simultaneous events, one in Radgona and the other online. Not only that, we decided to turn to the dark side again and make the central part of the event in complete darkness
The big lunch event was initially planned to happen in April 2020 during the Glass of Bubbly – London’s biggest annual trade & press tasting. To create a memorable experience, we planned to build a darkroom where a blind sommelier would serve the wine. But then COVID-19 happened so our first challenge was to monitor the pandemic daily and think of a new and flexible launch plan which could be implemented quickly. The pre-launch campaign in 2019 has already created a hype around the product, so our new plan had to also live up to those expectations. End of August we decided to organize the event on October 1 and to invite 100 wine writers and RG’s international distributors to participate online, as well as 30 local ones (maximum allowed) to physically come to Radgona. We needed their RSVP-s ASAP so that the sample packages could get to them on time for the event, weather they lived in California or Hong Kong, and especially because of the air traffic reductions due to COVID. Another challenge was to provide a high-quality sound and vision online signal from the Radgona cave, where the central part of the event happened. But the biggest challenge was to create the Untouched by Light experience as well as a smooth event flow both on the spot and online at the same time and in 10 different time zones.
The life of each Untouched by Light sparkling wine is spent entirely in the dark, all the way from the night harvest, to bottle rotation, packaging, transport, sales and up until the tasting. This is why we decided to also do the tasting part of the event in complete darkness of a natural cave, where the wine ages. To transfer the same experience online, our online guests received instructions on how to prepare for the tasting at home. They needed to dim the lights, decrease screen brightness and invite someone they like to share the experience
We used thermal cameras during the tasting in the cave for guests to be able to follow the event online. The thermal cameras showed the sommelier who was explaining how to open, serve and taste the wine in complete darkness. The sommelier and the hostesses wore military night vision goggles to be able to see, open, taste and serve the sparkling wine to guests on the spot.
The program kicked-off with the moderator of the event greeting the guests on the spot and online from the Dom Penine’s (The House of Sparkling Wine) garden in Gornja Radgona, a small town on the Mura river, the border of Slovenia and Austria, where the product is made. Then we screened a film about the town so the international guests could get a sense of where we are. After the welcoming speech of RG’s and UBL’s winemaker, there was a live musical performance followed by a film about the creation of the product, all of which was screened to online guests. During the performance and the film screening, the guests who were on the spot moved from the garden inside the cave, the place where the wine ages and the premiere tasting was about to happen. The sommelier had the honour of being the first one in the world to taste and comment on the wine and he invited all guests to do the same. Each online participant received a product sample for tasting prior to the event, and the guests in Radgona were served in complete darkness by the hostesses with night vision goggles. In the final part of the event we organized a Q&A session back in the garden, with the winemaker, RG’s sales representative and the sommelier. The moderator was reading out the questions and comments the online participants have been writing down via Zoom chat and some of them even joined us live via camera.
In 2 months after the event the client reached 25% of total stock sales, including distributor’s orders from China, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Liechtenstein, as well as a new distributor deal in Austria and currently negotiating distribution to Japan, Canada and Belgium.
The event was attended by 60 major international wine writers (NYT, Washington Post, Independent, Forbes, Bloomberg, Decanter…) followed by over 100 media mentions internationally since the launch in October.