SACRAMENTO, CA: The California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) and Weber Shandwick have launched a "Declaration of Independence" campaign positioning the state alongside France, Italy, and Spain as its own, independent country - Wine Country, that is.This marks the first consumer-focused effort in CAWG's 33-year history, said Karen Ross, president of the Sacramento, CA-based organization. The association was originally organized to serve as an advocate for growers, she explained, but felt the time was ripe to engage directly with consumers now that California has emerged as a force in the global wine industry.
Launched earlier this month, the campaign tells the stories of individual growers.
Outreach, geared heavily to lifestyle publications and bloggers, leads consumers – particularly Millennials (Generation Y) and women – to CAWG's www.onenationundervines.com microsite.
"It's a really fun way to drive consumers to discover all the reasons to choose California wines," Ross said. "The goal is to remind consumers what California has to offer: the many growing areas of California Wine Country, the diversity of varietals, price points and value, and all the smart, innovative people involved in the business."
CAWG is tackling its outreach "like a tourist campaign," said Jennifer Vides Blake, SVP consumer marketing at Weber Shandwick Los Angeles. The organization's "Declaration of Independence" encourages wine enthusiasts to explore California's 107 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), which cover six diverse winegrowing "states" in the independent "nation": North Coast, South Coast, Central Coast, Sierra Foothills, San Joaquin Valley, and Sacramento Valley. In support, CAWG and Weber are working with the state's local and regional travel and visitors bureaus to populate the microsite with beyond-wine information about accommodations, restaurants, festivals, and attractions.
"If you look at a wine list, or in the wine store, California is always prominently displayed side-by-side with France, Italy, and Australia: It should be its own ‘country,’" Blake added. “This [approach] allowed us to tell all of those stories in way that was fresh but logical."
California is the fourth largest producer of wine worldwide, according to public policy association the Wine Institute; today, wine grapes are grown in 47 of the state's 58 counties, and more than 50 varietals range from cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir to chardonnay and grenache.
"Virtually anywhere you go in California, you can visit a vineyard," Blake said. Still, "there are a lot really interesting things to say about California Wine Country history and vineyard processes that people don't know about. That has been a little bit challenging" for the state's wine industry.
In addition to Weber, CAWG has tapped Napa-based Mora Cronin of Cronin Communications to handle targeted wine-trade communications, specifically in terms of environmental sustainability issues and practices that set California winegrowers and their products apart.