Sonoma Valley, Napa Valley and Dealing with the Gorilla

Appellation or regional-based marketing aimed at both drawing tourists to wine countries or enhancing the reputation of a region’s wines has increased tremendously over the past few years.

The interesting thing here is that for any region north of San Francisco that wants to promote its wines and amenities must deal with the 800 Lb gorilla: Napa Valley. How to convince people that there is in fact another wine region north of San Francisco other than Napa…That is the question.

It seems to me, and I’ve offered this advice to a few interested parties, is that you do one of two things: You either ignore Napa all together in your regional marketing, or you take on the gorilla with both fists flying.

I got to thinking about this recently listening to Sonoma Valley’s approach to the problem. They’ve been running a series of radio ads promoting this amazing wine region with the tag line of: "The Real Wine Country".

Such tag line violates my idea of either ignoring Napa or taking it on. Clearly, Sonoma Valley is saying that IT is the REAL wine country, and not that OTHER region to their east. The claim neither takes on Napa nor does it ignore Napa.

If the Sonoma Valley marketers felt they absolutely had to deal with the chip on their shoulder it would have been far more affective to knock the chip off, rather than just tweak it. Wouldn’t it have been a far more honest effort, and perhaps more affective for the Sonoma Valley folk to say what they mean:

      "Visit Napa Valley For the Wine Traffic, Come to Sonoma Valley for the Wine Country"

On the other hand, ignoring the gorilla all together would have worked also with a pitch that sped right to a claim of great people, great views, great vacation, great wine.


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