“Sonoma VALLEY” vs “Sonoma COUNTY”
As noted in the post directly above this one, a study unveiled today demonstrates that far more consumers are familiar with "Sonoma County" as a wine region of quality, than they are any of its sub appellations such as "Dry Creek Valley", "Russian River Valley" or "Carneros".
The study looked at consumer awareness of wine regions around the world and found that awareness broke down like this:
Napa County: 95 percent
Sonoma County: 86 percent
Bordeaux, France: 72 percent
Dry Creek Valley: 33 percent
Russian River Valley: 25 percent
Paso Robles: 22 percent
Alexander Valley: 21 percent
Hunter Valley, Australia: 18 percent
Lodi: 17 percent
Santa Lucia Highlands, Monterey County: 15 percent
Knights Valley, Sonoma County: 9 percent
Maipo Valley, Chile: 9 percent
But notice, "Sonoma Valley" is nowhere to be seen in this evaluation. In fact, "Sonoma Valley" was not included in the regions offered to consumers to respond to. And there is good reason for that.
It is very likely that had consumers been asked about their awareness of "Sonoma Valley" that sub appellation of Sonoma County would have garnered a higher awareness rating than "Sonoma County". What wine drinkers are familiar with is not the COUNTY of Sonoma or the VALLEY of Sonoma, but simply "Sonoma". Now add to this the fact that the most recognizable wine region in the world for Americans is Napa VALLEY, and you can understand why Sonoma Valley would receive a pretty high awareness rating were it included in this study.
What does this mean? It means that those wineries that actually can put Sonoma Valley on their labels have a tremendous advantage, particularly for wines in the $20 range. It also means that Sonoma Valley vintners probably would get a far greater return on investment for any promotional dollars they spend promoting wines from their valley. It also means that they would probably gain the most from any county-wide promotional effort by vintners to market "Sonoma County" wines.
The point of the study was to demonstrate to vintners that the "Sonoma County" designation on a label will result in more wine sold. And the point is well taken. It will help sell more wine.
But there is something of great importance for "Sonoma Valley" vintners to learn as a result of being left out of this study.