A Wine Story a PR Guy Can Sink His Teeth Into
It’s rare that I post about a client here at Fermentation. But I’m going to do it today to demonstrate a point about public relations in the wine industry: The authenticity and quality of a winery’s "story" determines the enjoyment of promoting them as well as the degree of ease in finding an audience for their wines.
-The Bucklin Family is the steward of the Old Hill Vineyard
-This vineyard was first planted in the 1860s
-It was the first in Sonoma County to plant grapes that were not of the Mission Variety
-Wines made from their vineyard in the 1860s are credited with demonstrating the quality of Zinfandel and prompting a planting boom of the variety at that time
-In the late 1960s the family was told to rip out the vines, that the vineyard was no good
-They went on to sell the grapes to Ravenswood who made the vineyard famous with their Old Hill Zinfandel that today sells out at $60 per bottle
-The vines are truly ancient, and some believe it is Sonoma County’s oldest vineyard
-The vineyard is a field blend of over 20 different vines, with Zinfandel as the main component
-The Old Hill Vineyard is dry farmed, gives about 1.5 tones per acre, and is farmed organically.
-The Bucklin,as well as Ravenswood, wines made from the Old Hill vineyard have an extraordinarily unique flavor signature.
The only problem with this kind of truly authentic, fascinating story from a publicists perspective is where to start. Yet rest assured, we’ll figure that out just fine.
The Bucklin Family figured out a long time ago that the vineyard was the star of the show, regardless of how good the wine is….and it is very good wine. Their response to the significance of the vineyard was to re-create the anatomy of the vineyard on paper by first documenting each and every vine in the vineyard with the help of an ampelographer.This is the piece they developed:
Of course, looking at a vine by vine map of the vineyard is fun and fascinating, out of the ordinary and educational, but not the same as walking through this historic piece of land. Getting media and trade to do just that will be one of our most important tasks. From personal experience I can assure you that walking in between the rows and hearing the story of the vineyard is an eye opening experience that leans toward the reverential.
We spend lot of time, us publicists, crafting stories for out clients that will be compelling to the trade, media and consumers. Connections and interest that can be created by crafting these stories are what generate interest and sales. People want to drink, be a part of, and support wines and wineries that touch them as significant. It’s not different than how we react to any other luxury good.
Most wineries, if you dig and think about it, have some compelling story they can tell. However, it’s rare to come across a property whose story is so naturally compelling and significant on so many levels. Bucklin has done very little marketing. They don’t make huge amounts of wine and they’ve developed a pretty good distribution network. Our job at Wark Communications will be to advance their story so that consumers and trade can decide for themselves if Bucklin is what I and others understand it to be: one of those rare, lesser known properties that mean something by their very existence.
We’ll certainly be sending out samples, creating educational tools and contacting the media just to introduce them to the Bucklins, the Old Hill Vineyard, the vineyard’s history, the vineyard’s historic and current day significance, as well as to its wines.
For the wineries out there that read FERMENTATION, the message is not if you don’t have a 150 year old vineyard you don’t have a story. The message is, think deeply about every aspect of your wines, people, vineyards, markets, habits, commitments, winemaking and goals. Find the story that is most compelling, most defining for your market and most comfortable for you to tell. Then, go out and tell it to the wine media, the consumer and the trade.