Joe Goes Virtual! Coronavirus Caution Sends 2020 Wine Academy to Teleconference

An email message from Joe Bernardo to all Wine Academy students prompted concern among his friends and past students. The gist of the message – 2020 Wine Academy starts on Saturday, see you there.

The prospect of a dozen or more people mingling in the Academy’s basement classroom seemed risky in the face of the coronavirus threat, and potentially hazardous to Joe, who’s been frank about his health challenges over the past year. Story continues below…

The Wine Academy launches its fourth year online due to coronavirus concerns, Saturday March 21, 2020.

Enter the Nevada Grape Growers and Winemakers, who immediately went to work setting up a remote class via teleconference, complete with a dry run 24 hours in advance. Persuading Joe to go virtual may have been the hard part, since he’s no fan of high-tech solutions.

Joe Bernardo gives a virtual lecture on opening day of the 2020 Wine Academy, March 21, 2020

“I feel it’s pretty impersonal,” he said, “but I guess it’s got to be this way.”

Saturday’s class, produced by Stuart Michell, Dave Perdue, and Jason Schultz was nearly flawless. From their respective homes, they served as remote facilitators, launching the PowerPoint presentation, collecting audience questions, and keeping order among the attendees. Wine Academy assistant Cedar Briem stayed on site at the Academy as tech support.

The class started with an overview lecture, and concluded with some instruction on wine tasting. The facilitators acknowledged they hadn’t alerted students ahead of time to have a bottle of wine handy. If there’s another virtual class, Joe noted, everyone should be prepared with something to taste.

Joe Bernardo’s Wine Academy is starting its fourth year. The class spends part of the year doing hands-on work in the vineyard to learn about viticulture. After harvest, they learn to make wine. The class meets monthly. The group is hopeful the April 18 class can be held in person.


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