CAWG Raising Money to Brand the California Wine “Experience”
As the wine industry becomes increasingly globalized and competitive, regional branding is more essential than ever. This is especially true for areas other than the handful of famous ones (Napa, Sonoma, etc.) that do not immediately bring to mind a luxurious experience.
Because the majority of its wines are sold at low price points, the Central Valley is very prone to foreign competitors like Australia’s Yellow Tail. Many countries and states have formal institutions that promote their wines and in some cases lobby for protectionist measures. California lacks this resource, but the state does have CAWG (California Association of Winegrape Growers) on its side.
CAWG recently announced that it is raising money to bolster the state’s wine industry. Rodney Schlatz, the Chairman of CAWG and a grape grower in Lodi, explains the initiative: “This is a voluntary effort to come up with $500,000 in the next few months. If we had a dollar for every acre of wine grapes in the state, we’d meet our goal.”
Most of the money will be spent on events and press releases that raise awareness of sustainable farming practices in California’s vineyards. Karen Ross, the President of CAWG, says it is all about branding the state’s many grape growers. “Consumers want to know more about the growers, the people behind the bottle. Let the wineries promote their brand, and let the growers promote their brand.”
This initiative is more than just about selling wine; rather it is about emotionally connecting with the consumer on such issues as fair employment practices and organic farming. It is about developing and articulating the entire experience of consuming California wine and setting the region apart by illuminating the people who are behind it all.