Jeff Osborne is a wine and spirits business professional with a strong hospitality background which has seen him in roles across four countries and both coasts of Canada. Jeff is currently working with the wine and craft spirits team at Breakthru Beverage Canada, is the founder of JPO endeavour, a premium beverage services and promotion agency and can occasionally be found working on the floor as a Sommelier at Relais and Chateau property; Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa. Jeff is a certified Sommelier, WSET certified with distinction and a certified specialist of wine.
“As we moved forward we saw how we could help wine producers to better present themselves, their products and their story via digital presence and social marketing. Our goal from that moment was to offer winemakers another way to present themselves, telling their story created by our expert team which understands wine business and the market and offer them an accessible low price range, to have a chance to make themselves visible in difficult times.”
What’s in your glass?
Michal’s drinking a 2020 Vino Hatala ‘Sauvignon’ produced by a good friends father locally in the western most wine producing sub region called “Skalicky Rajon” just 100km or so outside of Bratislava, Slovakia. Quite like in Friuli Italy, in Slovakia they just call Sauvignon Blanc ‘Sauvignon’ and as Michal briefly describes the wine it seems the 2 regions produce a very similar take on this wine. Fresh, lean, vibrant, green, a little grassy, the kind of wine you want in your glass on a hot summer day or while you socialize virtually in our case. Michal’s favourite Slovakian wine however is 2017 Viajur, Dunaj. Dunaj being a local red grape variety named after the Danube river locally called Dunaj. Duanj was bred at a the research institute of viticulture and enology in Bratislava in 1951 by Dr. Dorota Pospisilova. It comes from the triple crossing of varieties Muscat Bouchet x Oporto x St Laurent. The wines are deeply dark in colour yet medium bodied with characteristics of dark berries, chocolate and with sweet tannins. Michal however is “not specifically a patriotic Slovakian sommelier” as he puts it. While he is a supporter of the better wines and producers in Slovakia he is very much a believer in the right wine for the job regardless or origin. With a personal preference for Italian wines, most specifically from Piedmont; he works with, supports and happily pours wines from all major regions or the world, though in Slovakia some are much easier to import than others
The Early Days
Though memories are limited and he ‘was not allowed to drink the wine back then’ at 13 or 14 Michal had somewhat of a storybook start into wine. Harvesting their 1 hectare of wine grapes with his grandfather and uncle on their families land just 100km or so outside of Bratislava, Slovakia. Michal would help to produce 500 or so bottles of simple table wine a year to serve their family and friends. Michal had no idea that this would one day turn into a passion and career. His grandfather grew local varieties St Laurent, Blaufrankish and Oporto which were fermented in a small winery in the basement and bottled into standard 750ml Bordeaux bottles (the go to wine bottle in Slovakia). His grandfather even won a few local competitions and accolades for his wines. “Somewhere around that time is roughly when my grandfather first started talk to me about how wine is made, about vines, grapes and tried to teach his knowledge to me. I fully discovered my passion for wine a few years later, when I got my first job in a restaurant as a waiter, without any previous experience in restaurant business at all, but I knew from that moment that I wanted to work as a sommelier one day.” Michal however has no recollection of ever tasting the wines and unfortunately there are no old bottles lying around nor is the family producing wine anymore.
“I got my first ‘diploma’ when I first started to work as a waiter. It was a local and pretty basic course provided by one of the local wine suppliers, but it still gave me much needed basic information for back then. When I later moved to London U.K for work to gain more of a different market experience, I chose to start my studies with WSET. Hopefully I will find some spare time to be able to continue and attend level 3, that‘s my next stage.” In addition to various restaurant waiter and sommelier roles, Michal has spent some time working with a local wine merchant and supplier Selavi working as a sales representative / sommelier which allowed a different perspective on wine business and an opportunity to cooperate with some great European producers as well as an exciting new Slovakian producer Viajur. Michal has always been eager to support the local wine community in any way needed from harvest, to sales, to social media and marketing and it is this eagerness that likely pushed him to his next step
Roughly 9 months ago Michal founded his own company WineO Factory and this quickly exploded into a full time job for him. Working with 3 accomplished photo and video producers they produce digital photo and video content to assist wine producers with marketing in a very fun and modern way. An exciting, creative way to help producers get their message out during unique times. “It all started spontaneously during last summer when my friend who is a video producer wanted to make a video about the role of a sommelier. I found that very interesting of course. We also needed few bottles of wine to use in that project. Based on my inquiry, we got help with bottles by one one of the best Slovak wineries – Vino Tajna and amazing Slovak oenologist Vladimir Hronsky and his boutique winery – Enovia. At the end, as a special thanks to them we decided to shoot more product videos of their wines. Thats where my idea started. As we moved forward we saw how we could help wine producers to better present themselves, their products and their story via digital presence and social marketing. Our goal from that moment was to offer winemakers another way to present themselves, telling their story created by our expert team which understands wine business and the market and offer them an accessible low price range, to have a chance to make themselves visible in difficult times.”
The focus thus far has primarily been high quality video content for instagram videos, IGTV, reels and other social media. “My role is responsible for the complete communication with all the clients, marketing and general organizing. It means the producers don’t have to worry about anything else and can concentrate just to digital creation. To have three different video producers is very important, as each of them has a different vision which comes through in the resulting work. This allows us to assign them to projects which will suit them the most.” The videos themselves (many of which can be found on the WineO Factory instagram) are quite fluid, elegant, light and fun in style and produced with exceptional video and picture quality. Often the model or actor in the videos himself, Michal has the precise movements, posture and demeanor one would expect from a world class sommelier in a top establishment.
WineO Factory is open to working with great producers from all over the world and is seeking to continue to evolve their modern take on digital wine marketing while continuing to grow their client base. Michal is now working hard on an initiative to recruit new customers and is seeking to build this international market base. One of the assets of WinO factory is that the videos can be made anywhere so travel is not always necessary. Michal is looking to spread the word and show the greater wine community their unique experiential take on wine marketing as they continue to scale up. Otherwise and as always Michal seeks to remain part fo the local wine community, assist as needed and is open to ideas and possibilities as he continues to grow as a sommelier.