Promoting the Wines of a Country

Working with an association of wineries is a notoriously difficult task for wine publicists and marketers. There tends to be a lot of decision by committee as well as indecision by committee. You also tend to have a lot of complaining about some members getting more attention than other members. It can be a minefield.

Yet, we find ourselves here at Wark Communications actively working on a proposal for representing a group of wineries…a proposal for creating a promotional organization to represent a country’s wines that, amazingly, have little or no representation here in America.

The marketing of an entire country’s wines is in some ways an easier task than representing a single winery if your goal is to raise visibility for your client. It’s easy to ignore one winery if you are a member of the press. It’s more difficult to ignore an entire country’s wines. On the other hand, it’s more difficult to effectively deliver a marketing message for a country than for a single winery.

Some organizations have done amazingly good work. Napa Valley Vintners comes to mind. Also, Russian River Valley Winegrowers are another promotional organization that has done a very effective job of promoting their region.

Budgetary constraints are always a huge issue with associations. They tend to be notoriously small. This means that most of the work is done in the trenches, interacting personally with the media, standing behind lots of tables at wine events, and making your printed materials go a long way, while relying on electronic communications quite heavily. The proposal we’ve developed for this potential client reflects these realities.

Yet, with all the obstacles that come with association PR, I must admit, the idea of promoting the wines of an entire country through a group of member wineries really is exciting. It’s the opportunity to do some real education that gets the blood flowing. It’s the opportunity to introduce not just the wine trade and media, but consumers also to a whole universe of wines they’ve never tried before. And it’s the opportunity to participate in the growth on an important part of a country’s export economy.


9 Responses

  1. Tim Elliott - July 27, 2005

    I’m still surprised that blogging and podcasting does not come up in the context of these types of things. Not only can you go deep into your story, but you start a conversation with your customer that has to impact brand preference. It’s also pretty cost effective. I’m not proposing blogging/podcasting as the entire campaign, just a piece of a larger one.

    Disclosure: I am both a podcaster and a marketer

  2. Lenn - July 27, 2005

    I hear complaints all the time from wineries here on Long Island about the Long Island Wine Council. I’ve heard their marketing meetings called “complete jokes” and “disgusting wastes of time.”
    But, wineries feel like they need to join and take part.
    It does have some newer leadership…so hopefully they’ll get things turned around.
    I don’t think they, right now, do a particularly good job of promoting the region. Sponsoring expensive tasting events is one thing…but actually building relationships with restaurants and creating a demand for the wines (among consumers) is still left largely to individual wineries.
    I’ve also heard grumblings of new groups forming as an alternative to the LIWC.

  3. Mike Duffy - July 27, 2005

    The Russian River Valley Winegrowers also do a great job of promoting their member wineries with the annual Grape to Glass event. My wife and I got 2 tickets via an auction to raise funds for the local Arts Council, and we’re really looking forward to it.
    So, are you going to reveal the country? At least give us the continent! We known it can’t be the one case where country = continent (Australia), since you say its wines aren’t well-represented in the US.

  4. Fredric Koeppel - July 28, 2005

    Austria? Greece? Canada? China?

  5. tom - July 28, 2005

    It would be imprudent to say, pluss I’d put the Karma Whammy on the possible project. However, if we get the work, I’ll certainly announce it.
    Canada however WOULD be fun. Too much potential and qualtiy there to ignore.

  6. Tripp - July 28, 2005

    Well as long as we’re guessing… I’m picking Israel.
    The government just announced a investment of $750,000 to promoting the country’s wine overseas. Eventually, $1.12 million will be invested a year over a five-year period to promote Israeli wine exports, initially to the US.
    …and who better to manage that project than our own beloved Tom Wark.

  7. Terry Hughes - July 28, 2005

    My fellow bloggers in Italy are kind of obsessed about a Team Italy approach to wine promo, but, as Sergio Esposito of Italian Wine Merchants here has told me, “That would be a disaster. They tried it in the 80s and it didn’t work.”
    A marketing brain trust would never have had the nerve to dream up a widespread movement toward indigenous grape varieties, yet that’s taken hold among Italian consumers in a big way, according to The same trend’s certainly catching on in the US, as my informal surveys of wine retailers from Boston to Richmond have revealed.
    It seems to me that a blanket promo strategy would best serve a small, defined area or type of wine, not a large and diverse wine-producing area, let alone a whole country. (Small countries like NZ being an exception, I suppose.)

  8. Giampiero alias Aristide - July 29, 2005

    You can promote – with reasonable success – a “country-brand” if you (the country) have few grape varieties, like countries of the “new-world” of wine. In Italy we have, according to several sources, something like 350 to 580 indigenous grape varieties, with more than 50.000 winemakers and more than 150.000 labels. It’s impossible to promote effectively such huge diversity under a “country-brand”. And it would be very stupid, IMHO.
    What we are starting to see here, is some kind of micro-brands, made of few winemakers, focused on similar terroir and distinctive indigenous grape varieties, looking for new sales-channels and consumers devoted to diversity.
    A very very very small movement for a tiny market niche: but every long journey starts with a small step…

  9. Aristide - August 1, 2005

    Flash dai wine blogger (4)

    Assai brevi cenni di cronaca dai wine-bloggers: Promuovere il vino di un paese. Tom Wark si sofferma, sul proprio blog Fermentations, sull’efficacia delle campagne di promozione su base nazionale dei vini di un determinato paese. Ode al terroir. Vinogr…

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