It Takes Growers to Market Wine?

Leave it to the growers to come up with the best idea in a while to increase sales of wine.

Tim Tesconi of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports today on a new study commissioned by the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association. The study finds that by and large wine drinkers are more likely to associate quality with wines that carry the "Sonoma County" designation on the label rather than any of Sonoma County’s sub appellations such as "Russian River Valley", "Alexander Valley" or "Chalk Hill".

The take away from the study is pretty straightforward: Put "Sonoma County" on more labels and sell more wine."

Keep in mind this does not prevent a winery from also putting the sub-appellation on the label a la "Russian River Valley-Sonoma County" and getting the same bump in sales.

The reasoning is pretty understandable. Most wine drinkers have heard of "Sonoma". Yet relatively few know what to think of "Russian River", "Carneros" or "Dry Creek". We geeks get it, but if it were just wine geeks who bought wine we’d only have 15 wineries in the state.

So, knowing that consumers are FAR more aware of "Sonoma County" than they are of "Carneros" or "Dry Creek Valley", I can think of no reason why a winery would not use both the County name as well as the sub appellation on the label. No reason at all.

Perhaps this will be the turning point that pushes Sonoma County’s vintners to start to take a unified position on promotion and marketing. Sometime in the mid 1990s the Sonoma County Wineries Association broke down as an effective marketing organization. They still have a summer auction event, but that is really the only time they make any noise. And it’s too bad the vintners have turned away from a co-op marketing approach. The marketing and promotional talent within the Sonoma vintner community is substantial. But they have no leadership…or at least no leadership that can rally the troupes to spend the money that will help raise the profile of Sonoma County as a whole.

Nick Frey of the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association…….are you listening?


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