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Advertising wine: time to take it seriously

39 comments

Two articles point to the difficulties, but also the opportunities, the wine industry has before it in emerging from the Great Recession. The first, “Wine words baffle us, survey says,” was published in the British publication, the Telegraph. It’s one of those read-it-and-weep sob stories that makes you wonder if wine is doomed to forever be seen by millions of adults as the ultimate snob drink. After the thousands of how-to wine books that have been published, millions of words in newspaper and magazine wine stories, and even with all the wine blogs, consumers remain hopelessly muddled, baffled and intimidated by wine, and profoundly ignorant about it. Go on, read the story yourself. It’s scary: they don’t know how to pronounce most varietal names. They confuse a tasting sample at a restaurant with a full pour. They ask for a slice of lemon in the wine. They pretentiously swirl, then spill the wine all over themselves. And they’re terrified of walking into a wine shop.

I don’t think beer or spirits drinkers face anywhere close to the same problems. What it means for the wine industry is, collectively, it has got to re-think its whole approach to wine education. We’ve got to expand the consumers’ comfort zone. How? That’s where the second article comes in.

It appeared in the New York Times on Wednesday, and was entitled “Growing appreciation for P.R. on Madison Avenue.”

I have to admit it came as a surprise to me to learn “how much more interested marketers are becoming in using public relations to reach consumers.” I might have thought that, with the recession, companies had less money to spend on P.R., which could be seen as a non-essential frill at a time when they’re struggling to meet payrolls.

But no. Instead, CEOs are realizing how much they need P.R. specialists to help them with a growing array of fields: T.V. commercials, social media, database marketing, analytics, print advertising, search-engine marketing,  brand management, crisis management, reputation management, issues management.

I’m sure my P.R. friends, like Jo Diaz, won’t be at all surprised by this. When I think of winery P.R., I think of a one or two person shop, either in-house or hired, in which the P.R. person has too much to do and too little time and money with which to do it. That’s why winery P.R. can so often seem clunky and anachronistic. It’s not that P.R. people don’t have good ideas; they’re just not given the budgets to realize them, the way, say, Coca-Cola, Weight Watchers and BMW are (to name but a few companies cited in the Times article).

Gigantic wine companies have the deep pockets to launch massive advertising campaigns, but how about everybody else? That’s why, I think, the majors keep on being major, while 95% of all the other wineries are in a continuous scramble for existence.

The lesson to be learned, IMHO, is not a new one. It’s an old idea, one that’s been around forever. But it’s never been fully resolved. Why don’t the smaller wineries collaborate? They could all pool their resources until they had a budget that might not rival Constellation’s, but would be enough to hire a big Madison Avenue P.R. firm. Then that firm could go about educating consumers in exactly the areas the first article talked about.

Can you imagine it? A 30-second commercial during “Mad Men” on how to pronounce Viognier and Pinot Noir. An insert in PEOPLE magazine on how to order wine in a restaurant. Frank talk to consumers about how the industry has let them down and is now ready to make amends and try again.

I know it sounds crazy, but there are thousands and thousands of little family wineries in all fifty U.S. states. Couldn’t they collectively raise $20 million? How about a commercial during the Super Bowl? Remember, one Apple commercial — the famous 1984 ad — launched Apple Computer to where it is today. That ad was only shown once, but it had a huge, lasting impact on America’s, and the world’s, psyche. Aren’t there some creative minds out there that could do the same for American wine?

  1. The ad agency that made the 1984 ad also made the California Cooler ads http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqECHkvPgkA (via http://www.artandcopyfilm.com/ ).

    I wonder what kind of wine Isaiah Mustafa drinks after he puts on Old Spice…

  2. Small producers should probably try to keep it local. There just isn’t enough production to justify a national campaign. I suppose demystifying is a laudable goal. But as long as the gatekeepers and taste makers are overwhelmingly old, affluent, culturally white males–no offense intended–there’s little hope of broadening the audience. Wine is perceived as an aspirational lifestyle product, except perhaps in wine regions (especially those driven less by vanity wines and lifestyle vintners) where it’s a pleasant accompaniment to food and occasionally a sipper like a good beer.

  3. An interesting idea Steve. I agree that it is essential for wineries to collaborate and work together to compete with the juggernauts. Motivating and initiating these interactions seems to be an even bigger challenge given the overloaded schedules of people in the wine industry. Any thoughts?

  4. Bobby, if I knew how to make it happen, I’d start charging for my advice!

  5. I think we have to re-examine the whole proposition that a person needs to learn a bunch of stuff to enjoy wine. Why is it so f#$%ing important to be able to pronounce Viognier? The reason people are insecure about buying and drinking wine is that we keep telling people they have a bunch of stuff to learn including a bunch of French words to enjoy wine. And we force them to have to be able to say something intelligent and correctly pronounced about what they are drinking.

    How about an ad on cable where you could say the F word. You have a two couples, classy, attactive people in their late twenties having a lot of fun drinking wine at a noisy, chic, classy restaurant. Ladies sitting across from men. Not drunks, but just healthy social interaction between intelligent and good friends. And then in an aside, while girls are talking between themselve, one guy says to another “What is this wine, it’s f#$%ing” delicious. (the profanity is partially bleeped.) The other guy says the name of the wine and “it’s good, that’s all I know.” The first guy says what the (bleep) else do you need to know about a wine? They laugh, clink glasses, and go back to having fun with their hot lady friends.

    And then the narration ends with a restatement…Ch. xyz…..(bleeping) delicious. What (bleep) else do you need to know to enjoy a wine?

  6. Carlos Toledo says:

    Gigantic wine companies have the deep pockets to launch massive advertising campaigns, but how about everybody else? That’s why, I think, the majors keep on being major, while 95% of all the other wineries are in a continuous scramble for existence

    Steve, you’re writing only about the american businesses here (damn you jingoistic yankees :- ) )…. but as a person who deals with wineries from many other countries (yes, the world has other wine-producing countries) i’ll say it again: Many people everywhere don’t even know why they’ve started their wine business. Thousands of companies, banks, little guys, grandpas and friends have bought land, machinery, grown their own grapes and made their own wines just because it looked nice OR (this is bad news) because of tax breaks (read big companies, holdings) or tax deductions.

    My point, again: There is an enormous bubble out there. There is more wine and wineries than the demand right now (with or without recession in America and Europe). Clearly the big ones are going to do well in the long run, many little guys are going to be swept off the court, but a few stars are going to emerge during the carnage too. It’s been like this since the beginning of the world, which according to some people is 5,775 years old (or thereabouts).

    Yours truly,

    Carlos

  7. Carlos, sorry, I don’t mean to come across as jingoistic. I don’t follow the international wine business market terribly closely, so I suppose I do have some tunnel vision when it comes to the U.S. and California industry.

  8. Morton, that’s brilliant! I’d #@%&*+# love to see that ad on the tube!

  9. I agree with Morton but why not have the “hot ladies” say it? I mean seeing as women do a fair amount of shopping for wine, (more than men at my shop) so howz about knocking another layer of crusty off and letting the chick say fuck? Just sayin’

  10. Carlos Toledo says:

    That’s why your blog is so different from the crowd, Steve. People from everywhere hang out here….. and the opinions must be as diverse as we all are…but i have a feeling the most people who pop in are just as nice, fair, honest, and correct as you are.

  11. Speaking as a “gatekeeper” who is old and definitely NOT affluent, I see it everyday — people start with their “training wheel” wines (white zin with an ice cube) and eventually develop their taste buds to want more from their wine. Along the way, they learn about different wines, different grapes, different regions and wine styles — yes, some have trouble pronouncing viognier, but that’s why us “gatekeepers” are there — to HELP THEM LEARN.

    If we are inclusive; talk TO people and not DOWN to them; be sensitive as to how to present the nugget of information; and welcome them to the next level (when they are ready), then we’ve made another convert. But it happens one person at a time, when they are ready.

    And when they are ready, they will see the necessity of proper pronunciation; go to another country and see how quickly you can be dismissed by not pronouncing *their* language properly. It’s part of communication and respect for another culture, after all. Show a willingness to make the effort and learn something about the rest of the world — it will repay you handsomely.

  12. Samantha- that is definitely an improvement and, wow, I thought my wife was the only woman who used that word.

  13. I guess I am odd man out here. I just do not see how or why small wine companies should be advertising on television at all. Mass media reaches the masses. Big companies sell to the masses. Small companies sell in stores like Sams’, in restaurants and in their tasting rooms. TV is not going to help them increase market share.

    Small wineries need to improve their relationships with and outreach to retailers. They need to get on wine lists that suit their products. And they need to improve their tasting room experience so that they can generate mailing lists to be able to sell direct. When they have done all that, then they need to find an appropriate distributor.

    And finally, they need to pay attention to the quality of their products. Even with the difficutl economy, most small wineries do not find their existences threatened. And very few of those that are threatened were making wine that offered value for the money asked–unless of course, they were in too much debt and undercapitalized.

    Smart wineries find their ways to market and build a loyal following over time. This is business, but how many wineries are hobbies? I have nothing against folks making a good living and retiring to wine country. But wine country does not owe them further economic success. That commodity is usually hard won.

  14. I think Morton has hit the nail on the head. Wine has never been marketed as “fun” it is however marketed as “special, complex and sophisticated”, something to “learn about”. It seems like the industry wants the best of both worlds that are ultimately mutually exclusive. They want millenials (sp?) to drink wine as much as they do beer or liquor, but they also want to charge a high price for their juice. As a 23 year old who is in the industry, living in Sonoma County, I spend a great deal of time in both high end tasting rooms and local dive bars and I can tell you that nobody at the bar downtown at 11 pm is talking about the nuance of their whiskey and coke. They are socializing, drinking, and having fun with their peers. if you want people my age to drink wine on a regular basis then it has to be about two things, flavor and fun. Learning about the nuances of Franciscan soil impact of varietal character is not fun, I’m sorry, it’s just not. Interesting maybe to some, but certainly not going to pass in todays world of instant gratification. Being the wine nerd that I am, I will sometimes spend a lot on a nice bottle and pair it with food while i agonize over all the flavors and tannin structure, acids etc. But sometimes I just want to pop one open and drink something tasty with friends without have to think about it.

    Until the industry can market their product as something fun and easy to enjoy, they’ll never reach the market they’re after. But then again, no marketing folks want you to think Screaming Eagle is easy to enjoy, if it was easy to drink without thinking, it’d be hard to charge 400 a bottle.

  15. Vinorojo,

    Good on ya! Not only is the impact of Fransiscan origin soil on a variety not fun it is also unimportant in the scheme of things, it has as much impact on wine as living on the 30th parallel vs the 35th parallel has on humans. I side with Charlie. Leave it to Coca Cola and Bartle and James to reach the masses (they would have doe it by now if they thought they could make a buck). As someone who has a brand that is all about “serious Wine – Laid Back attitude” I can tell you that most wine drinkers are not looking for “fun” They are looking for a purchase they hope says something about their social status and ability to get something that is percieved as rare or “unavailable” for the masses.

  16. Steve, firstly it’s “horses for courses”.

    Having been one of those maligned marketers ;) in a large alcohol beverage company which had a wide portfolio of brands from the boutique to the mainstream, you just make the decision to put the right horse to the right course. The “horse” being the wine and the “course” being where wine drinkers of that particular wine category spend time (grocery vs fine wine stores vs liquor chains; MacDonalds vs Manhatten club; TV vs Wine Spectator, NFL vs Golf, facebook, wine blogs etc etc).

    Mainstream wine needs volume and market share: TV advertising and grocery delivers this to the people who just like the functional taste of a fruity wine. They have every incentive to grow the market and your ideas to make wine more approachable should ring true with these brand teams. But not small premium wineries.

    Boutique expensive wine needs to maintain its margins (ie prices) as there is little volume to cover its cost: so an upscale restaurant and premium bar focus to build the brand together with tastings, competitions, and a speciality wine retailer channel to sell the volume.

    PR has a role in both just in different ways and, yes, budgets.

    Secondly some consumers just want to hang out together and alcoholic beverages lubricates that socializing. Explaining wine to this very large part of the market is only mildly interesting to them.

    Another group of consumers (including most of the readers of this blog I suspect, and myself) are fascinated by the intricacies and vagaries of wine. Any education and explanation is feasted upon.

    With others in between.

    Having said all that I do agree that there is a role for mass education but more at an industry association level which can raise a small fee across hundreds of wineries. This would probably not go to TV advertising however.

  17. Oded makes a good point. One way to make wine more fun is to make accessible, easy to drink wines. That means lighter, lower alcohol, less tannic wines. And to me it means also better versions of aromatic wines, including the willingness to soften them with a little residual sugar.

    Why is sparkling wine the only type that is allowed to have residual sugar? At 11 PM in a dive bar (what hell do I know about dive bars at that hour of the night. btw?) or sititng at the bar at Michael Mina, if I am going to drink wine, as opposed to brandy or a mixed drink, it has to be comfortable to the palate.

    I am not suggesting, of course, that wineries big or small abandon tight, structured wines that go with food, but that they also open up themselves to the lighter side. And, if you read this and think that this guy has gone soft, go ask my wife what she wants to drink late at night. You can bet your bottom dollar it is not a powerful Syrah or Cab.

    One small story. I went up to the Kuleto winery (a gorgeous place by the way) in the hill above Lake Hennessy not so long ago. We were tasting with winemaker, Dave Lattin, and he asked if we would like to taste his Muscat. It was not a great Muscat, he said, because his site was too hot and it ripened at low sugar with somewhat low character. So, why did he make it, I asked. Because he said, even at his winery, with its expensive wines and expensive visit, folks wanted a counterpoint to all the power.

    Caymus made a ton of money with Conundrum. Riesling is coming back into fashion. Good Pinot is more popular in CA than ever. It is not because those wines are powerhouse, but because they are easily likeable–nuanced or not.

  18. I side with Morton on this one. I think we need to make it our responsibility to keep people drinking the juice, then when they have questions we give them the info. I mean, the really passionate wine professionals, know much more than is necessary. How often does average joe come in your restaurant or wine store and ask about soil types and weather patterns? I say we keep it as easy and friendly as possible and inject a little wine geekiness when it is welcome. And, of course, have fun. It is just a drink after all.

  19. Ian, right, but the industry does need to do more pr and advertising. I like Morton’s idea of keeping it fun, without dumbing it down.

  20. There have been some really stupid ad campaigns over the years, attempting to make wine approachable. Remember the WI campaign with the thirty-something guy and his dog? The tagline was something like “He likes meat, I like wine.”

    But my all-time favorite print ad is still in my files. It’s a picture of the exterior of a brownstone. At the curb, awaiting the garbage man are boxes overflowing with empty bottles of orange label Veuve Clicquot. The tagline: “Too bad you weren’t invited.”

  21. Jan: I like the image (the boxes of empty VC) but not the tagline. The image is almost better all by itself. “A picture is worth 1000 words.”

  22. LOL! Jan’s image says it all… YOU WERE NOT INVITED, you are not cool enough or sophisticated enough to be “allowed” in the fraternity. No wonder most folk (excluding the coasts) think we are a bunch of stuckups. Here is my commercial: Two gorgeous 30 year olds (dressed sexy but not slutty) walk to a vending machine. They press the first button and a fat biker holding a beer pops into the compartment. They recoil, push the second button, an effemate guy holding a Chi Latte and sporting a hemp vest pops out. They look dissapointed and press the third button, A Beret wearing Guy with a pencil mustache and holding a bottle of Brandy appears, they laugh their ass of as they press the last button. A tan surfer dude holding a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and three glasses appears. We see them walk away from the back, him in the middle and as one of them pinches his butt, the slogan appears: “California Wine – Give it a squeeze”

    Please send royalty checks to PO Box 1341 Healdsburg CA 95448

  23. An effeminate guy? Not sure what you mean. Do we have to sell wine along sexual orientation lines? I have no problem with sexy people, but to draw distinctions along gay-straight lines is objectionable to me.

  24. Two Points. First, I think Oded should have said metro-sexual. Second, we produce big jammy Zin’s. Lots of fruit, lots of flavor, lots of alcohol. We do this on purpose because there are lots of good people that love these wines and love the simple story of our winery. Nothing better than barrel samples in our 600 s.f. winery at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday morn. Small producers need to keep costs down and keep a laser focus on the desired market. If they do they will meet plenty of fun and interesting people, plus make a modest long term living.

  25. Interesting, on purpose, I did not mention at all if the gorgeous 30 year olds were male or female, leaving it open to include all possibiities. So I am really surprised that anyone is taking it as a jab at gays. As ridiculous as claiming Steve was supporting Prop 8 (A few posts ago). If anything (just to make it clear…) I was poking fun at the Chi-drinking Hemp wearing crowd who are anti GMO except when it comes to their weed (then genetic manipulation is fine by them). Maybe that was not so evident

  26. Morton,
    I assure you…she is not.
    So if we are going to have hot chicks hitting buttons on a vending machine how about giving them what they want? It aint a surfer dude..unless they are cougars then he should have 3 glasses and a bottle of Housewife Heroin, aka (forgive me Charlie) Rombauer Chardonnay. No if you are trying to entice the actual female ( not the slobbering horny, I miss the days when I was hot) how about a guy in faded jeans, a white t-shirt, salt and pepper hair…slight definition of age and wisdom showing in the deep grooves in his face…one dark brow raised as he smiles, the smile of a man that doesn’t need that bottle to make you say yes…but will open it if it makes it easier for you to.

    Marketing for the most part is banking on the lowest common denominator, with that comes that prat falls of the not at all inspired and easily swayed by shinny…no loyalty. With that comes the next hot thing and the cycle continues….

    Passion and love for a lifestyle. The making it okay to say, “Damn this third or fourth glass feels so fucking good” until we are willing to allow some of that into this business, well…chocolate martinis and busty beer chicks are gonna kick our ass over and over again.

  27. Steve- I can’t disagree with the wine business needing more PR and advertising, but as soon as I think about that I have a nightmar-ish notion of more campaigns for Santa Margherita and the like. So how do we get big companies to spend ad dollars on lesser known wines? I could be wrong, but I think Deutsch will always spend ad money on Yellow Tail before Pierre Sparr and Terlato would promote Santa Margherita in big media outlets before Josmeyer.

  28. Ian, I think a generic wine advertising campaign would work. It would not promote any particular brand or type of wine, just the idea of drinking wine.

  29. Imagine if all the wine associations got together and pooled some money for general advertising, like “Got Milk?” did…

    You’re brilliant… and I wish others would get it.

    In bad times, best time to advertise… Big pebble, small beach…

    I wish others would… (Very popular refrain around here, my friend.)

  30. It is in the nature of a marketplace that features thousands of lesser players to have the big dogs lead the way. As we discussed above, the better-run smaller producers use their unique ability to influence of the market to sell all or most of what they make and to earn a profit for their troubles. Most of them would love to have a generic campaign for wine–paid for by the big dogs. Take a 5,000 case producer who today spends very little or nothing on advertising. That producer can better use a $1,000 outreach to the specific retailers and restaurants it needs to target than it can use or needs a generic campaign that benefits the big dogs first and foremost.

    I am not suggesting that generic advertising and marketing has its place, but I am suggesting that the big dogs have little use for promoting the marketplace for the small dogs, and the small dogs can better use their spare cash on specific, self-benefit programs.

    This debate goes all the way back to the days before the Wine Institute when there was a market order funded by everyone. Ultimately it broke down on the very grounds that this today’s idea will break down. In point of fact, and Morton may know more of this than I do, but my recollection is that a struggle between Gallo and Heublein/United Distillers, two of the big dogs also erupted.

    A very low cost program of brochures promoting a variety of wineries might be more acceptable to the smaller producers than an expensive program that deals in entry level wine. Of course, there is one large difference between 1960 and today. Today, even the large producers are playing in the expensive end of the market. Gallo, K-J, Diageo, Constellation, and even mid-big guys like Terlato, all have pricey brands with good-sized productions in their portfolios. If the big dogs could ever agree to a broad-based program that served all ends of the market, then everyone but King Freddy might be happy. Frankly, I don’t see it.

  31. Jo, but see Charlie’s comment, above. I figured he would weigh in on that historical “marker order” stuff. What he says is true, and it is a huge obstacle. But I figure, if eggs, cheese, milk, almonds and avocados can do it in California, why not wine?

  32. Steve, re: “IF eggs, cheese, milk, almonds and avocados can do it in CA, why not wine?” — I would think that all of those products are generic enough in their initial consumer attraction to warrant being able to take an “across the board” approach to promoting the category.

    Wine is SO brand specific as to almost preclude a generic “Got Wine?” ad campaign, don’t you think? Every producer is trying to instill brand loyalty to their own product that it overrides the common sense approach of promoting a region for the greater good of all who produce in that region. I can’t seem to think of an iconic brand of cheese, milk, or avocados — but I can think of a half dozen wine brands that have achieved iconic status (whether it’s earned or not is another topic;).

  33. Small to Mid size Wineries don’t seem to be real bright when it come to doing something else than making wine…. oh and they seem to be pretty happy with the tasting room online wine club sales until they look in the warehouse and say OOPS I forgot about all of those palates… “maybe I should hire a social media person to help me move it”.

    Advertise ? What? Keep Smiling Miller says : )

  34. Keith: Social media! The solution to everything!

  35. But Steve, the wine industry, without collaborating, has spent a great deal of their PR time and money on doing exactly the opposite of what you suggest. They have deliberately made wine exclusive. With overall more wine that demand at luxury prices, many wineries have attempted to create a false sense of shortage by limiting customer access and knowledge. Their wine is made as miracle and mystery by celebrity winemaking authorities who only grant access to the educated and affluent few. Wineries take extreme steps to create this image: limiting purchases, limiting access, grandiose tasting room facades, steep tasting fees, and a penchant for using French as much as possible. “Exclusivity sells” is the PR model for wine industry. Yes, there are some exceptions, some very successful exceptions at that. But to get a whole industry to advertise itself as easily accessible when many have spent a lifetime to craft the opposite image is not going to happen in our lifetime.

  36. Scott, you’re probably right. But one can wish.

  37. Here’s a bit of context regarding the Clicquot ad. It was a morning after thing – garbage and real life with a hint of excess. Edgy and smarty pants for the times. The year was 1981 and the orange label was available for less than $20.

    In 1981, California wineries were struggling to be taken seriously; we were busy marketing wine as The Good Life. I was one of those fools, in my pr role at Chateau St. Jean.

    The whole ad teased and tickled me. I sent it to Tom Hobart — the king of Sass–and we promptly gathered the faithful to pop a cork of orange label for our Sunday ritual.

  38. Though I read them quickly, none of the comments seem to have mentioned the Wine Market Council’s initiatives. They raised millions, under 10 I think, and retained Bozell Worldwide Chicago which created both the “Got Milk” and “Pork, the Other White Meat” ads to launch several generic wine campaigns. One involved a website wineanswers.com. Wine Business Monthly did a good piece on later efforts by the Council http://www.winebusiness.com/wbm/?go=getArticle&dataId=15062.

    When I was ED of Family Winemakers in the late 90s we participated in the committee that endorsed Bozell’s clever tag line “Wine, What are you Saving it For” The commercial was a speeded up time reel, like those used for shots of the sky to indicate the passage of time. Typical items in the fridge would be pulled out, replenished, added to, pulled out… but that lonely wine bottle in the back would just sit there, presumably week after week. According to the agency the commercial boosted wine sales an additional 2.3% in two test markets in New York and Texas.

    Also, the ongoing debate over the issue of Wine Institute proposing a Market Order for vino led to the creation of Family Winemakers with Jess Jackson, Bryce Jones, Patrick Campbell and Bill MacIver, among a few others, insisting that the smaller CA wineries (Jess had a small winery in Lake Co, we’ll all recall, until Jed Steele made that “mistake” with the Vintner’s Reserve Chard) needed a “one winery, one vote” organization.

  39. Steve,
    A very, very timely article. After many years in PR & marketing the wholesale side of the wine business, I recently launched my marketing communications company precisely because of the need that you so eloquently described in your article. The old model of pumping out wine, shipping it to the wholesaler and sitting back to wait for the check is long gone, yet producers are just starting to take notice. The business model needs to shift dollars from production into strategic marketing/communications and sales.

    Most small/mid-size producers here and abroad do not have a whole lot of emphasis on branding and communications strategies to trade and consumers. While your suggestion about pooling together to hire a major agency in order to run a campaign is potentially a good one, I have found (in my background in the NYC advertising and publishing industry) that large agencies (much like large wholesalers) have strategies which leave a great deal to be desired. The people you will have working on wine this week were very likely working on aspirin or dish detergent the week before…. ultimately it could be done as long as they had some people in house that were competent in the sector. For large agencies, very often it is less about target marketing for their clients and more about where they have their obligations & deals…but that’s a whole other conversation.

    There is no question that the smaller, family owned brands we all enjoy need better reach and communications strategies to differentiate themselves. I believe that can be handled successfully with specialty wine & spirits PR firms for a reasonable investment. I believe it so much so that I am basing my business on this. However, that is different from the wine industry educating consumers about wine basics with a full-fledged advertising & communications campaign as you describe. I would think a potential route in the U.S. would be to involve the state or appellation wine agencies that exist or will exist as each state is now home to vineyards, (perhaps have different contribution levels based on production volumes) and use that as the basis for a consumer wine education campaign like you described. And by the way, just like small wine brands, small agencies can also offer tremendous value and quality for the dollar…… It could be done via an industry conference consisting of all the heads of the various agencies and perhaps with the input of the Society of Wine Educators (SWE). I am involved with SWE and worked with government and non-government agencies in international trade, so I do believe this could be done.

    There is precedent for this in a European country that successfully ran a multi-year domestic campaign educating their population on the various aspects of wine….

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