We have had the pleasure of serving the Knudsen family since summer of 2012 when we were hired to help launch Knudsen Vineyards. The project was immediately interesting to me given the family's deep roots in the Willamette Valley -- the family's patriarch, Cal Knudsen and his wife, Julia Lee, were early winegrowing pioneers. Over the last two years, we've provided the Knudsens guidance ranging from messaging and brand visuals to online marketing, sales allocation and media relations. And much more in between.
We just launched this September and I'm proud to say have already generated strong media coverage. Below are four factors in addition to serving excellent wine made with a passion at the proper price (which is simply the price of entry into our crowded market):
1. The family's willingness to participate in media events and host journalists at their property. This of course requires a commitment of time and resources, but as one of my wine PR mentors, Ed Schwartz, used to say: "There are three ways to get press -- a meeting with a PR person, a meeting with an owner or winemaker, or a meeting at the property." Not being regularly available to host and regularly meet with media on their turf drastically reduces your chances of achieving recognition.
2. The family's willingness to tell their story more broadly. For example, during the property lunch we served two vintage Argyle sparkling wines and a 1987 Knudsen Erath Pinot Noir in addition to the wine the family was releasing, 2012 Knudsen Pinot Noir. Page spoke about the property's history and links to other great wineries in the area more than the one wine currently available for sale. It's just not as interesting to journalists to taste one wine or hear one angle during what is for them a large commitment of time. I learned this skill on a very large level working with the Symington Family of Portugal for five years -- they created a multi-city Vintage Port Tour bringing together their own competition to tell their region's story.
3. The family's investment in marketing to ensure that their brand presence underscores the quality of their wine. It is very difficult for us to speak with media about how special a brand or property is when the company's online presence is lacking. A winery's website simply must use intriguing imagery and contain the simple tools that help media do their job -- a well told story, wine details and contact information.
4. Good old fashioned thank you notes. We all like to hear please and thank you, and not making time to thank journalists for attending and covering events is a big no-no. Page personally thanked every person who attended her media lunch and is quick to write notes each time coverage appears. We do this as a matter of course for our clients, but it's always nice to have a note come from an owner or winemaker.
5. Making wine available for media samples. This conversation began when we were discussing allocations as it's important that new brands both account for media and library samples. Promoting a wine without offering members of the media the opportunity to taste it is like asking a restaurant critic to rate an establishment without giving him access to the food.
I was thrilled to be asked to serve on the media committee for this year's International Pinot Noir Celebration. This is such a beautifully run event and it attracts top producers from around the world to McMinnville, Oregon for a weekend of incredible wine, food, hospitality and friendship. It was my first time attending the full weekend and I vowed never to miss it again!
This Monday I had the pleasure of judging the 2011 Idaho Wine Competition, which is run by Wine Press NW and hosted by the Idaho Wine Commission. I truly enjoyed experiencing these new wine regions and discovering some gems.
Idaho has grown from approximately 11 wineries just a decade ago to over 40. The commission seems to have improved its marketing significantly, and I'll be following them to monitor developments and growth. For those thinking of visiting, the greetings are friendly and Boise is a well-maintained college town that is easy to navigate.
As is typical with me, I offer some of my favorite "gold" wines below -- these are not necessarily competition gold medal winners.
Williamson 2010 Riesling, $9 - This wine ultimately received a silver, but was nearly a gold in my opinion. Tangerine, lemon cream, floral and basil notes filled the nose, which was confirmed on the palate that offered good balance and a clean finish. For $9 it's a great buy!
Cinder 2010 Chardonnay, $18 - Lime, pear, green apple aromas were quite pretty, with noticeably nice oak integration on the palate. This is a polished Chardonnay that showed best in its class. It could stand up against competitors from known Chard regions and with the quality:price ratio, knock them right out of the running.
Williamson 2010 Blossom Rose of Sangiovese, $12 - Another winner from this winery, the rose features pretty pear, floral, lavender and cherry aromas. There is a nice acid balance on the palate which leads to a clean finish. Great "summer sipper" all year long (we shouldn't give up rose just because the sun is hiding).
Snake River 2009 Arena Valley Vineyard Syrah, $17 - I gave this wine a gold, as did my colleague panelists, so it was rated a double gold medal. I loved its smoky cherry, blackberry fruit aromas and notes of bacon fat and pepper. The palate is filled with rich fruit and it brings a long finish. (The website is beautifully done -- can't help the marketing note.)
Wood River 2008 Cabernet Franc, $28 - An impressive showing and gold for this variety, which tends not to be made on its own. The nose has cedar, black fruit, raspberry and bell pepper. The palate features great balance with good acid:tannin: fruit ratio for structure. Delicious. It won best red of show.
Koenig 2009 Riesling Ice Wine, $20 - Wow this was a fun wine to taste -- I may have even swallowed a sip :) Aromas of apple, pear and lemon zest were complimented by slight graham cracker and herbal notes, which added complexity. The palate featured very ripe peach and apricot notes and a very long finish. In short, this is downright delicious.
If you haven't ever tried a wine from Idaho, I encourage you to look for these gems and explore -- afterall, one of the reasons that wine is so engaging is because it offers a way to discover the world.
PS - a special thank you to my colleague, Janel, who participated in research for this post
Yesterday I had the honor and pleasure of presenting "Building a Winning Marketing and Sales Plan" to an enthusiastic audience at SOWine 2. I was impressed by the enthusiasm, energy and attendance at this second annual event held in Central Point targeting Southern Oregon producers. In fact, my mind is still racing with thoughts about the knowledge gained from thoughtful audience questions and my colleagues' presentations.
A terrific industry event starts with a strong vision and commitment to planning, organization and service. It follows through with strong presenters and like a good marketing plan, collects feedback and seeks continuous improvement. If its truly impressive, an event like this leaves attendees and presenters alike feeling energized, connected, educated and ready to take action.
Marilyn Hawkins of Hawkins & Company PR, a b2b PR firm based in Ashland, is the visionary behind SOWine and she gets it! Marilyn created this event to gather and educate Southern Oregon wine producers (she also owns a small winery there) and her abilities as an event organizer are downright impressive. This year, to enhance her inaugural program, she partnered with the fast-growingSouthern Oregon Wine Institute of Umpqua Community College, directed by the equally energetic Chris Lake.
Below are some of the highlights of my notes:
1. Good design is consistent, transferable, and projects extrinsic cues about the brand promise (the marketing value proposition) - Richard Roberts, Palazzo Creative
2. Don't just "build and blast". Best practice email marketing starts with a goal, list segmentation, and compelling contest. It includes testing and analysis, focuses on deliverability, and is compliant with CAN-SPAM laws. Terry Miller, CRM Group
3. Consider rotating your email signature to include great press quotes about your winery - Sheila Nicholas, Nicholas Communications
4. Your social media campaign needs to consider that over 80% of millenials sleep with their smart phones (myself included, although depending on what definition you use, I'm more likely a Gen Xer) - Jeffrey Kingman, Chalkboarder
5. Before you can build a successful marketing plan, you need to know who you are, to whom you're selling, what differentiates you, when and where you will sell and why anyone should care - moi,Trellis Wine Consulting
Unfortunately, I was unable to stay until the very end of the day, so I missed the late afternoon presentations. Given my experience at the beginning of the day, I'm confident that they were equally as interesting. This was a couple of days out of the office well worth taking.
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