Using Sensory Awareness to Enhance the Wine Tasting Experience with Dr. Hoby Wedler

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Jun 24, 2021

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

Using Sensory Awareness to Enhance the Wine Tasting Experience with Dr. Hoby Wedler

Last Updated on June 24, 2021 by

Dr. Hoby Wedler

Dr. Hoby Wedler is an entrepreneur, chemist, visionary, and teacher. He is a passionate scholar who helps brands think beyond the visual and embrace all of the senses. Dr. Wedler has been completely blind since birth. In 2016, he earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry, and he continues to pave the way for others to join him in following their passion, regardless of the challenges that lie ahead.

Dr. Wedler is the Vice Chairman of the Board for the Earle Baum Center of the Blind and the Vice President of the Petaluma Educational Foundation. He is also the US Client Services Director of Tucker Creative and a Founding Partner of Senspoint. Dr. Wedler’s long list of achievements includes being recognized by Barack Obama as a “champion of change” for enhancing employment and education opportunities for people with disabilities. Forbes Media also named Dr. Wedler as a leader in food and drink in the annual “30 Under 30” publication.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Dr. Hoby Wedler talks about what shaped him when he was young and how he learned to embrace challenges 
  • The essence of entrepreneurship: solving problems
  • How did Dr. Wedler get started in the food and beverage industry?
  • The “Tasting in the Dark” event — and how it enhances the wine tasting experience
  • Dr. Wedler’s tips for wineries to help people embrace the sensory tasting experience
  • Dr. Wedler discusses his new business and the recipes he’s preparing to launch on the site
  • How Dr. Wedler makes the perfect roast chicken
  • What is sensory literacy, and how does it apply to the craft beverage industry?
  • Dr. Wedler shares his inspirations in the industry

In this episode with Dr. Hoby Wedler…

According to Dr. Hoby Wedler, we use our eyesight to take in 85 to 90 percent of our surroundings, compared to the mere 10 to 15 percent of the other four senses. Even in the craft beverage industry, our eyesight keeps us from fully experiencing the richness of all five senses. So, how can you create an immersive, sensory experience, and what will it do for your business?

Dr. Wedler is changing the world one bottle at a time through sensory literacy experiences like “Tasting in the Dark,” where guests explore the world through their non-visual senses. With a heightened awareness of these underutilized senses, people can gain more of an appreciation and understanding of the world around them. Plus, you can focus on the non-visual senses to create a great customer experience for your winery! 

In this episode of Legends Behind the Craft, Drew Thomas Hendricks is joined by Dr. Hoby Wedler, an entrepreneur, chemist, visionary, and teacher. Together, they talk about how to accelerate happiness by enriching the moments that matter through sensory experiences. Dr. Wedler shares his insight into the non-visual senses and explains how to create an inclusive, collaborative community. Plus, Dr. Wedler offers his advice for making your business stand out through multisensory branding. Stay tuned!

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.

At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.

Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.

So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!

To learn more, visit or email us at to schedule a strategy call.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Legends Behind the Craft podcast where we feature top leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry, with your host Drew Thomas Hendricks. Now let’s get started with the show

Drew Thomas Hendricks  0:19  

Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, where I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry, from the founder of InnoVint, whose technology enables wineries to operate at maximum efficiency. To Today’s guest Dr. Hoby Wedler, who helps brands think beyond the visual to embrace all the senses. Today’s episode is sponsored by Barrels Ahead. At Barrels Ahead, we work with you to to implement a one of a kind marketing strategy one that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and connects you with your ideal client, Hoby. In short, if you’re a business looking to retain a winery as a client, Barrels Ahead, we’ll figure out a plan to make that happen. today to learn more. Now before I introduce today’s guest, I want to give a big thank you to Shana Bull. on last week’s show, Shana and I discussed three of the biggest mistakes wineries and brands in general make and their social media strategy. If you want to avoid these pitfalls, go back and give that show a listen. I’m super excited to talk with today’s guest Dr. Hoby Wedler. Hoby Wedler is a chemist and entrepreneur who has been completely blind since birth. After earning his Ph.D. in organic chemistry, Hoby made a business out of his love for wine, his highly trained palate, and his desire to bring sensory literacy to the world. Hoby is now the co-founder and CEO of Hoby’s, a product and service company that specializes in accelerating happiness through perception, appreciation, and ultimately, success. Welcome to the show, Hoby.

Dr. Hoby Wedler  1:40  

Drew it’s an absolute honor to be here with you. How you doing today.

Drew Thomas Hendricks  1:45  

I’m doing great, I’m stoked to have you on the show.

Dr. Hoby Wedler  1:47  

This is so much fun, you know, I love what you’re doing at Barrels Ahead. I love I love the strategy piece that you guys you guys bring to the table like it’s just, you know, like minds, man. And I think we’re we’re Kindred kindred spirit in the industry. And the fact that we we met a couple of weeks ago is just amazing. And I’m so thrilled to be able to chat with you and to thank you for introducing me to your your audience. This is awesome. Awesome. 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  2:12  

So tell tell us a little bit about yourself?

Dr. Hoby Wedler  2:14  

Yeah, you know, I very simply put, I’ve always had the heart of a teacher, you know, I and I’m not saying that, like some teachers, some people like to teach because they just want to know more than everybody else. Right? That is absolutely not the way that I think or the way that I teach I want I just want to get people excited about things that maybe they didn’t know, they were excited about before, and they can really get behind and get excited about and get invigorated by. So that’s, that’s a lot of what I what I love to do in the in, in my work. And that’s sort of driven a lot of my my professional and personal decisions as I as I’ve gone through life, you know, I was born totally blind. My parents would I think we’re a little quite nervous about having a blind child for about 12 hours before they said, Oh, no, let’s just step up to the game and step up to the plate and figure out how to do this. There’s actually a funny story there. My mom’s best friend from college is a woman by the name of Barb Morgan. And my mom thought after I was born 12 hours or so after I was born. She said I should call Barb and we should we should tell. Tell her about tell her and her husband Steve about about Hoby and you know that he was born? he’s blind. So her husband Steve answered the phone. And and all Barb heard was, Oh, no. Oh, gosh, how are you going to deal with that? You know, and being in a person always curious. She is she grabbed the phone from him and said, what’s happening? You know what, tell me what’s going on. She knew that my parents had called. And my parents got on the phone and said, Yeah, Hoby was born but born blind. And we think he’s probably going to be blind for the rest of his life. And Barb’s response immediately. Oh, thank goodness, you know, I thought he was dead. blind we can deal with. I’m gonna write a book sometime. And maybe maybe I’ll call it it’s better to be blind, the dead you know, I

don’t know. But. But what’s funny about that is that and the truth there is that she Barb Her father was best friends with a blind man and a very successful blind man. And he was over their house all the time. So she grew up with blindness and realized that, hey, this is a person who is just an amazing person who happens to be blind. So blindness to her was not a characteristic that defines someone. And that’s exactly how it is with me. And that’s what my parents were very quickly able to embrace. Is it okay, this is not Hoby our blind son. This is our son Hoby, who happens to be blind. And there’s a big difference there. And you know, that that really shaped me and my upbringing all along is, is this idea of, you know, hey, we are all our own people. And, you know, my parents had super high expectations for both me and my sighted brother who’s two years older. The biggest thing that they did is they told us, listen, this is your life. And you need to take responsibility for yourselves and your action. You know, and if you if you succeed at something and thrive, you’re just That’s awesome, it’s yours to celebrate. And if you mess up, it’s yours, you’re, you’re there to take the blame. And that’s something that’s just been so stuck with me for all all of my professional journey. Thus far, it’s, it’s like, we need to take challenges and accept them, and face them. And it feels so good when we succeed, you know, feel so good when we overcome the obstacles in our path and, and just, you know, do as well as we can. And it’s also important not to be afraid to fail, you know, we got to fall down a little bit, because your failure isn’t anything, anything more than a performance issue, right. And we have to tweak and tune up our performance all the time, you know, it’s just part of living the life that we that we lead. So that’s, that’s really the goal of it. And, and the fun of it is, is, you know, it’s figuring this stuff out, and, and making it all making it all come to life in the best way possible. I, like many people had a high school instructor who was amazing. And that happened to be a chemistry teacher. And I think it really is, that’s another thing that I like about teaching is that you can inspire people and shape their their line of thinking. And that’s, that’s exactly what happened with this with this high school teacher, you know, she kind of thought, and how’s a blind guy gonna study chemistry, and I was one of the only ones in the class that wanted to take it further than in her class. And I asked her, you know, okay, let’s figure out how to do this. And she’d say, Oh, this is just not practical for you, you know, the risk is high in the laboratory. And I thought, okay, there’s got to be a way to explain to her that I can study chemistry, just the same as anyone else, and you know, with some assistance, and I realized, okay, here’s what we need to say, nobody can see atoms, you know, that’s really what it is. Sure, we use our eyesight to detect certain things that are happening in reactions, maybe, maybe the color change occurs, maybe we see a gas being evolved, you know, whatever the case may be. But the truth be told, chemistry is a cerebral science. And from that point on, she became a total ally of mine, and just an extreme supporter. And, and that’s, you know, I went on to get my undergrad degree in chemistry at the University of California, Davis, knew that I was a nerd, and I wanted to teach and, you know, I wanted to teach at the university level, but I didn’t know that I was necessarily gonna be able to get through graduate school and chemistry as a blind guy. I actually also got a degree in US history, which I, which I love, and then kind of a history buff, a history nerd myself, and was applying to graduate programs in history when I met my who would become my graduate advisor as a computational chemist, just an amazing man named Dean Tantillo. So I ultimately worked with him in his in his group, and earned my Ph.D. in 2016. But the the thing about that was, I was doing that in order to teach, I didn’t really want to get into the research industry, my goal was always to teach chemistry. And I was a guy that wanted to walk into the lecture hall full of, you know, five or 600 freshmen chemistry students at 8am, on a Monday morning, after a long weekend of partying, and just make chemistry fun, you know, they don’t want to be there, they’re there, because it’s a prereq for all the other stuff they think they want to do. If I could get a few of them excited about chemistry, man, that was that was my passion, not 

Drew Thomas Hendricks  8:10  

was that the bad boy chemistry.

Dr. Hoby Wedler  8:14  

But if we can make chemistry fun for people and make it exciting, you know that that was my that was my goal is to just to just take that, that class full of pirate students and excite excite couple of them to pursue chemistry further. And what was funny there is that I had the honor of teaching some chemistry classes while I was a graduate student. And what I found is that students, by and large, don’t really like to speak chemistry, they like to, and they don’t read the book beforehand. But frankly, so they like to see pretty pictures and animations of how things are happening. And frankly, I was spending the majority of my time making those pictures and making stuff look good, rather than, you know, actually teaching chemistry and not have to memorize those, you know, what I had on slides and so that I could present it coherently. And it was just not the the experience that I thought teaching chemistry necessarily could be. So I decided to take a career that was much more entrepreneurial, after graduating with my with my degree, and really have been working for myself in the in the food and beverage industry and other industries as well, but largely in food and beverage for the past, you know, five years now, and I love it. By the way,