The New Shiny Dull Object is Right Wing Wine

Why does it seem it’s always the most uninteresting wine that provokes the most controversy in the wine industry?

Earlier in the year, a big old kerfuffle surrounded the introduction of the Avaline brand from actress Cameron Diaz and the description of the product as “clean wine”. The wine itself is decidedly average. The Kurfuffle over what the hell “clean” means was bigger than your average kerfuffle and still vexes those of us who think words describing wine ought to actually mean something.

Now seems to be the moment for”Partisan” wine. In particular, we see the wine media (as well as other media) focusing on We The People Wines. The brand sells uninteresting, average wine, but sells it with a decidedly conservative branding and marketing attached to it. We The People Wine is apparently for patriots. In fact, it’s not really average wine that is being sold at all, is it?

While interesting if you tilt your head this way and squint your eyes in that way, this particular controversy just isn’t important…in any way whatsoever.

Yes. We The People Wines exploded over the internet with a video that appears to link Ronald Reagan, motherhood, apple pie and the might of the U.S. military to its brand. Yes, it’s selling wine like they are asking for a contribution to a Donald Trump campaign. Yes, We The People Wines divides the consumer landscape into conservatives and communists. But it just doesn’t matter.

Still, we can’t help ourselves can we?

I’ve seen some link the We The People Wines to “racism” and “white supremacy”. This seems about as true and likely as trying to link wineries that posted their Black Lives Matter black square to radical rioters.

I’ve seen folks claim that this kind of partisan branding is likely to widen the cultural and partisan divide in America even further. This notion too is silly. If the cultural and partisan divide in America can actually be made larger by the existence of a few thousand cases of mediocre wine sold as Patriot Juice, then we have some bigger problems we never noticed that need attending. It’s just not the case.

The only thing of real interest here that ought to give a moment of pause to wine marketers is the question that is implicated by this controversy: Is it a good idea and is it profitable and is it sustainable for wine brands to actively and loudly engage in ideological or partisan branding?

In one of the articles that have attended to the issue of We The People Wines, Michael Kaiser, VP of Government Affairs for Wine America, answers that question in really the only way it can properly be answered:

“From my perspective as a lobbyist for the wine industry, I think it really behooves the industry to remain apolitical.”

Michael also adds this:

“It is bad business to do what this brand is doing.”

He’s partly right here and partly wrong. It’s bad business if you market your brand in this fashion but don’t go all-in on the branding the way We The People Wines has done. This isn’t the kind of “cause marketing” that a small, high-end wine brand might engage in so that they can raise money for this cause or that cause. This is really top-level, brand-defining marketing in which all other perspectives on the brand are swept aside. It’s a commitment to single-issue marketing. One doesn’t declare themselves the “Wine For Conservatives and Patriots” then attempt to message out, “Hey, by the way, look at our really great terroir.” You’ve pretty much blown whatever wad of marketing you possess by declaring your product the enemy of half the country. No one is going to listen to or consider anything else.

So, by all means, let’s momentarily and collectively and once again focus on the average wine over there.


5 Responses

  1. Donn Rutkoff - October 11, 2021

    Three things crossed my mind;

    1.The difference between the wine industry, and boat ownership, is wine seems to inspire more creative and novel ways to put obstacles in our own path.

    2. Of course, it is really up to SWS and Youngs if this brand succeeds.

    3. Maybe this brand will crack open those states that are hostile to DTC, and that’s a good thing for all of us who are NOT employed by SWS or Youngs.

  2. john skupny - October 11, 2021

    Someone should look up if a Federal COLA was granted. It is my understanding and experience that the national flag or national monuments cannot be depicted on alcoholic
    beverages [I did not see a California exemption on the labels]. As I recall it is disallowed as it might be considered a tacit ‘Government approval’ of an ‘inducement to buy. I faced this problem with a label that has the Statue of Liberty depicted. But what political party cares about the rule of law!

  3. acv - October 11, 2021

    Didn’t take cancel culture long to find its way to this article. John Skupny to the rescue. I believe the point of the article was why get outraged if they (the brand) are shooting themselves in the foot, was Tom’s take.

    Reading vinepair.com is always a practice of dumbing down your existence to hopefully gain a glimmer of insight as to why the left is so completely fascist at its core “dedicated to Conservative [sic] values.”

    What might those [sic] values be?

    I don’t know…. maybe when Fredrick Douglas, a former slave, said in his famous 1852 July 4th speech “that we need to live up to those things written in the Declaration of Independence,” he (Fredrick) is talking about the foundational principle our Country was founded on “All men are created equal”.

    When MLK said there was a promissory note written in those founding principles that have not been paid yet. What is MLK appealing to, is the fundamentally anti-racist nature that the United States was founded back in 1776.

    Not a systemically oppressive nation that the left can’t stop wishing was the case despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    In re: the article. I never particularly was fond of Breast Cancer awareness wine, low carb wine, Vegan wines, even wines that benefit the Marines Toys for Tots….or USMC College Scholarship fund or whatever. I knew I could sell them based on the social tie-in….and they may even have been good wines to drink…. but that was not the point of the sale.

    How do you separate the wine, which may be excellent, from the fact that you are helping some social cause by buying purchasing the wine? It’s nearly impossible. The purchaser must be on board with the cause to even consider the purchase.

    Is this common enemy marketing as opposed to common humanity marketing? Yes. To deny there is not a polarization process going on in Society is to be blind to what the other side is feeling it needs to do to exist.

    The left started virtue purchasing a long time ago.

    If you look at Charlottesville incident as one WAPO reporter summed it up, ‘this was a rally of white [sic} nationalist in Polo shirts, Khaki shorts, and New Balance shoes with tiki torches chanting “white lives matter,” and “you will not replace us,”.

    Reprehensible? Yes. …any daylight between the slogan “black lives matter?” Nope.

    A wine being sold with a Conservative tie-in. “I’m shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here.”

    What will the fascist right think of next an alternative to Twitter called Parler…perish the thought…I mean cancel the thought.

  4. John Skupny - October 11, 2021

    Hey acv, in small letters! nothing to do with cancel culture, it is following the law, which I do. At least I put my name on my posts and not hide behind lower case initials while posting obtuse and inane rants.

  5. acv - October 11, 2021

    Obtuse and inane? What was obtuse? The Fredrick Douglas quote or the MLK quote? C’mon, you don’t need me to explain what these two luminaries of civil rights were saying further do you?

    If We the People Wines is appealing to a niche market, and the question of why, and is it healthy is being put forward, then why is it inane to look for a cause-and-effect at play?

    It’s not simply the case that this wine exists, and whether it’s a smart business strategy to employ in the marketplace, though that might be enough to justify its existence. Rather, why was it created beyond profit-making?

    Same logic for why Fox News was created. There was not only a niche. But a niche that wasn’t being served.

    I further implied it was always probably part of a backlash against woke capitalism.

    John, your 1st reaction was to challenge the Artwork all in the name of you being a good law-abiding citizen. Right. My confidence in that being the case and this was not your blatant sleight of hand by you to try and get the brand canceled is not particularly high.

    There is a rift going on right now in values in American life. My pointing it out is not adding fuel to the fire. If we can’t stop for a moment and say, this is real, then how will we ever solve it?

    If you agree that how we see the world is not just based on the individual but also based on how society sees the world, as we are all part of the same culture…. then… We The People Wines is exactly what you get when you realize that the divide between the left and right in this county is rather deep.

    Lastly, you only want to know who I am so you can ascribe to me, attributes of the community I belong to, based on my racial and perhaps ethnic identity. It is attributing to the individual the characteristics of the group as if the group were homogenous that which we call racism.

    I’m helping you resist your racist reflexive urge by remaining all lower-case initials. You’re welcome.


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