Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brand recognition

I wanted to revisit an article I wrote last week. I wrote it in a hurry and looking at it afterwards I pretty much failed to make the point I had in mind. So forgive me for rehashing an old piece; hopefully this time I've done a better job of it.

One of the reasons I write this blog is because I feel that the Santa Clara Valley has poor brand recognition. 150 years ago there were more vineyards in Santa Clara County than any other county. The first French grapes were planted here, at Almaden. By 1883 there were 15,000 acres of vines - Evergreen and Cupertino were covered in vineyards. Just to the south in San Benito County they have the oldest existing winery in the state.

In the recent San Francisco Chronicle wine competition, wines from Santa Clara Valley took home a good haul of medals, including two Best In Class and a Double Gold. There's some very good wine made here; I'm trying to do my bit to raise awareness of them.

So when I saw that Rick Bakas was hosting a virtual tasting of Californian Cabernet Sauvignons I was interested. Now for those of you who don't know Rick, he's the director of Branding and Social Marketing at St. Supery in Napa. He's on twitter as @RickBakas His website is

As I said in my original post, Rick had helpfully included a map of the major growing areas. That map highlighted such bastions of quality wine as the Central Valley. The map called out Marin County, which has just 7 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon planted, San Diego County which has 23 acres and even Santa Cruz County which you might be surprised to learn has only 12 acres of Cabernet Sauvignon planted (almost all the Cabernet Sauvignon grown in the Santa Cruz Mountains AVA is actually grown on the Santa Clara side of the appellation). But it did not include Santa Clara County or San Benito County, with over 500 acres planted between them.

The simple fact is this: If a self-declared "branding super freak", who works for a winery and is trying to promote Californian Cabernet Sauvignon, can somehow omit such a significant region then clearly there is a problem with that region's brand awareness.

So what can we do? Well if you believe as I do that the local wineries are worth supporting then sign up for the event. If you own or work for a winery, tell your mailing list about it; Donati Family in Paicines is offering a discount on their Cabernet just for this event. Then on February 11th let's all open some great bottles and tell the world about them.


Rick said...

Well said. As it were, that map came from a university online which is probably even more alarming.
ALL wine growing regions should be accounted for and hopefully the virtual tasting will help bring exposure.

Come one, come all!

Paul Romero said...

Dave - I've signed up and will encourage those who follow our blog and Facebook to take part.