Yesterday, The Moodie Davitt Report hosted its inaugural ‘Virtual Wine O’Clock’ event to share a digital toast with members of the travel retail community.

Zoomed in from the Netherlands, Melvin Broekaart is well-used to digital innovation

The virtual event was conducted via Zoom and welcomed 70 different travel retail wine lovers from all over the world. The first session was set (virtually of course) in Italy — home to some of the world’s greatest wines — but now currently the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe.

During the 90-minute session, we heard some heart-warming stories from our travel retail colleagues around the world (including those in Italy, Hong Kong, Canada, Greece, India, the US, and the Netherlands) as we talked all things wine, love, and life.

Here we feature some of the feedback (and wine choices) from our dear friends in travel retail who attended the event. It offered a timely reminder of the compassion, camraderie and sense of community that this industry displays, even (or perhaps especially) during these unprecedented times.

Air Commerce Chief Executive Officer Melvin Broekaart, The Netherlands

Accolade Wines Global Travel Retail Commercial Director Rupert Firbank, Somerset, UK 

“I thoroughly enjoyed this evening’s Wine O’Clock. Great to see some familiar faces with a mix of the usual banter we expect amongst friends and colleagues of many years standing, and some sobering thoughts.

“I think it would be great to continue this over whatever the lockdown period is.  It may be longer than we hope for. There were many of us on the call who have lived through a plethora of shocks to the system and to our industry, but all appear united that this is bigger than those we have faced previously. Nonetheless, we all fully intend to be there as we come out the other side, perhaps humbled by events but absolutely resolute to rebuild and carry on.

“Sitting here in very rural Somerset, where quite frankly we are used to living in isolation, I had to think hard on what to drink this evening.  I realised that I had drunk the last three Italian wines I owned a couple of weeks ago. So, what to do? I happen to have a couple of cases of Grant Burge Holy Trinity 2012; a Grenache Shiraz Mouvedre from the Barossa Valley. Seeking divine inspiration, I was able to force a link between the The Holy Trinity, the Pope, the Vatican and so to Italy. It was fantastic. Until next time. Stay low and run fast.”

Audeh Group Operations Manager Roula Makhoul, Dubai

“Thank you so much for this lovely and interesting initiative of the Virtual Wine O’Clock. Hope that we will be able to touch base soon.”

Sunny Touch Corp Owner Virginie Cordero, Florida, US

“Thank you so much for organising such a nice get together! I think wine is a way to keep people happy and it was an excellent idea! See you soon for the Asian and American wine party!”

Duty Free drinks specialist Steve Corrigan, New York, US

“First, thank you both so very much for organising the virtual wine party, and second, for allowing me to be a part of it (even though I’ve sadly been a step out of the business for a little while). It really felt like coming home in many ways, and I thank you for that. Looking forward to the next one.

“I was drinking a 2004 Bodegas Ysios Rioja. As mentioned on the call, it’s a Pernod Ricard property, and a brand I tried mightily to get into our travel retail channel despite the allocations. Absolutely delicious and a happy trip down memory lane.

Spark President & Founder Heidi Van Roon, Vancouver, Canada 

Former SSP CEO Nordics & Spain, and Group Director Strategic Client Partnerships (recently retired) Nick Inkster, UK 

“Martin, I really do take my hat off to you. You are unique in being able to find joy and positivity amongst the gloom. Your one idea lifted the mood of a load of people this evening, so thank you for that!

“I was drinking Guigal Condrieu la Doriane, 2016. A case was part of my parting gifts from SSP, so I thought it an appropriate choice for your first ‘Virtual Wine O’Clock’. Here’s to the next one.”

Churchill’s Confectionery Travel Retail Manager Jo Willey, UK 

“Great to see everyone tonight and hear their stories. Until the next one!”

Greater Toronto Airports Authority Senior Manager Retail Operations and Performance Suzanne Merrell

Greater Toronto Airports Authority Senior Manager Retail Operations and Performance Suzanne Merrell, Toronto, Canada

“Murphy’s law, I have been called into the airport today… and sadly am not able to do Wine O’Clock as I have a logistics session.  Please please keep me in mind for session #2!

“Also note that at home, I have a beautiful Ontario 1998 Cab Franc from Marynissen Estate Winery that I have been saving for a special occasion and this is it, to be pre-empted by a gold label La Bottega Prosecco in support of our Italian friends.

“I am looking forward to seeing you in the near future and will ensure that the next session I am guaranteed remote work! All my very best and support.”

Kavanagh Communications Senior Corporate Communications/International Media Relations Leader Anne Kavanagh, UK 

“Uplifting and interesting — it worked for me! I was drinking Inycon Nero D’Avola Shiraz from Italy. Thanks so much for organising the get together.”

Some familiar faces in the travel retail community joined us for a ‘digital toast’ via zoom during our first-ever Virtual Wine O’Clock event