Innocent Bystander is bringing the cellar door experience online, using social media to create a live tasting bar. 

The Yarra Valley wine producers have scheduled weekly live tastings via Facebook, hosted by their sommelier Margaret, which they describe as a “clever and unique” experience for wine lovers.

In each session, Margaret will take viewers through the ins and outs of a specific varietal, with tasting notes, comparisons with other regions, food pairings, and a general ‘demystification’ of the world of wine. 

General Manager of Innocent Bystander, Mat Janes, said the idea for the sessions came from wanting to showcase a passion for wine that they would usually convey through on site tastings.

“We’ve got a great bunch of people who work at our cellar door out in Healesville, but unfortunately with the necessary restrictions that are in place, it’s meant that we’ve had to close up the cellar door. We can we can still do retail sales, but we can’t do tastings in the way that we would have before… but we’ve got passionate people who still want to share and talk about the wines that we make,” Janes told The Shout. 

It all kicks off this Friday with a session called ‘Perusing Pinot Noir.’ All sessions listed so far on the schedule are below, set to take place on Fridays at 5pm for the next six weeks.

  • 27 March – Perusing Pinot Noir
  • 3 April – The Greatness of Pinot Gris
  • 10 April – Talking Tempranillo
  • 17 April – Sipping Syrah
  • 24 April – Gabbin bout’ Gamay
  • 1 May – Chatting Chardonnay

Janes said viewers can expect an experience that emulates the Innocent Bystander brand, through the unique character of sommelier Margaret. Sessions will also feature interactions with some of the younger casual cellar door staff, as they make the experience: “approachable, engaging and unpretentious.”

Innocent Bystander have all varieties for the tasting available on their online store and in preparation for the events have implemented free shipping and 20 per cent off. With an online takeaway menu available locally as well, they’re hoping to reward people doing the right thing and staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These sessions join other online innovations coming from the industry, as they try to extend their usual hospitality into the virtual world. Janes said this has been one of the bright spots coming out of all the craziness lately. 

“It’s been really difficult for for businesses… because there’s a lot of doom and gloom out there. But I think what we can all do is focus in on what makes our offer and what we do special and unique… to zero in on the things that make the industry that we’re in so much fun and enjoyable for us and the people that consume our products,” Janes said.

“I think we’ve seen some some stunning examples across all industries of people pivoting their approach and going, ‘I can’t do what I normally do, but what can I do is inspire and engage people.’

“Because there will be a time in the not too distant future, I hope, where things will return to some sense of normality and if we stay positive and stay focused on what we do best and the consumers who enjoy our products, then those people will stay with us and we’ll be in a better position to fire things back up again when the time comes.”

TheShout, Australian Hotelier, Bars and Clubs and National Liquor News will continue to work with the industry to bring you updates, news and advice regarding the impact of COVID-19 over the coming weeks and months. See our coverage so far here, or share your story with us by emailing

Brydie Allen

Brydie Allen is the Editor of National Liquor News. She has been with Food and Beverage Media since 2019, when she joined the company as a journalist across National Liquor News, Bars & Clubs, The...

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