- Southern California chain Gelson’s Markets will host a virtual wine tasting Sept. 16 with musician Jon Bon Jovi and son Jesse Bongiovi centered on the pair’s Hampton Water wine brand, according to a press release.
- Earlier this year, Gelson’s hosted a tasting with “Breaking Bad” stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul where guests sampled their mezcal brand, Dos Hombres.
- The virtual tastings are an example of how Gelson’s has adjusted its in-store events and operations during the pandemic, including debuting a service for ordering prepared foods online.
Gelson’s, an upscale market with 27 locations in Southern California, launched its in-store wine tasting program in 2019. They were an instant success, Chief Merchandising Officer John Bagan told Grocery Dive earlier this year, with events charging up to $75 per ticket and frequently sold out.
But the pandemic put a stop to the popular program last year as Gelson’s closed up its wine bars and in-store dining spots. So the chain adjusted, and in August of 2020 began offering monthly online tastings that included special guests, including winemakers like Justin, Grgich Hills and Far Niente, as well as a few celebrities who dabble in the alcohol business.
The celebrity guests came through industry connections, a Gelson’s spokesperson said, noting that Gelson’s has a strong relationship with Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, which distributes Dos Hombres and offered the tasting opportunity to the grocer. The spokesperson didn’t note the specific connection that led to the Hampton Water tasting, but indicated it came through an industry partnership.
As part of the tasting, Gelson’s provides the wine along with a paired meal for pickup on the day of the event. Customers who booked a spot for the Hampton Water tasting will receive a smoked duck breast and seafood platter for two for $40, which they can pick up from a local store on the day of the tasting. Separately, the Hampton Water Rosé costs $20.
The spokesperson said in-store tastings are still paused due to the pandemic, but that Gelson’s wine bars, available at 13 of its locations, are currently open.