Envolve is a relatively new venture and opened its first tasting room on the Sonoma Plaza last July. It's a partnership with childhood friends Mike Benziger, Danny Fay, and Ben Flajnik.
Many people are familiar with Ben Flajnik because he starred on the television show ‘The Bachelor.’ He was billed as ‘the bachelor winemaker from Sonoma.’
The E! network recently announced that its new programs under development include a show called, “Young Sonoma.” There hasn’t been any word as to when it will air, but the series, assuming it comes to fruition, will follow winery folks from Sonoma Valley, including Mike and Kate Benziger, Danny and Collette Fay, B.R. Cohn Winery’s Vallerie and Tasha Cohn, and Flajnik.
According to one report, “The series goes inside the day-to-day drama that comes from living in a small town, working with friends and family, as well as being local and national celebrities.”
I sampled some Envolve wines the other day: they weren’t too shabby – there’s excellent wine backing up the hype. The whites are a strong point. The 2013 Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc made with grapes from George MacLeod’s vineyard is fat. The Sonoma Mountain Syrah and Grenache Rosé is tasty and refreshing. The lineup includes an elegant Russian River Pinot Noir. The 2010 Envolve Puma Springs Bordeaux Blend – though just two barrels were produced – has powerful, silky tannins. The old-vine Primativo has nice texture with a chocolate malt thing going on. Rounding out the lineup, is a nice crisp, if pricey, sparkler from Carneros.
The venture is still relatively small but has ramped up quickly – it produced somewhere on the order of 13,000 cases last year – less than half of under the Envolve Label, which is produced in limited quantities from some special sites. The more popularly priced Epilogue line could be expanded, however. Epilogue includes a Sauvingon Blanc and a red blend. Chardonnay is the biggest SKU, with roughly 5,000 cases produced.
Celebrities have long been associated with the wine business. Some are more directly involved in the actual winemaking and blending process than others, but reality show celebrities are pretty new.
One of the more successful recent celebrity wine launches was Skinny Girl. Skinny Girl introduced 3 varietals of wine last March and according to a report by Wines & Vines, it was the highest selling new wine of 2012 by far - in just nine months.
While most consumers are intimidated by wine, they look up to celebrities and relate to people on reality shows. Granted, Bethany Frankel already had a margarita mix and the wine in the bottle is nothing special - but with her name attached to the brand, Skinnygirl is recognizable. Long before Skinny Girl wine, Bethany Frankel was on a reality show. Her fame drove sales after she was out of the limelight.
The new Young Sonoma "reality" show will focus on Flajnik, his friends, and the wine business. It could also help market the winery brand to millions. Imagine the possibilities. Epilogue could be poised for considerable growth.
We know that women account for most wine purchases, but marketing wine to women can be tricky. Not very many wine companies are good at it. Many remember the failure of Beringer's White Lie. There's a fine line between creating a brand identity women will embrace and showing women that they're being marketed to. As John Gillespie with Wine Opinions puts it, "The trick is to make a product with it’s own quality and own appeal and market it in such a way that it perhaps offers some charm, but doesn’t say, 'Hey you little girl, this is for you.' Women have a tremendous radar about this."
Envolve and Epilogue will likely appeal to women. I don't have any data to back it up, but Ben Flajnik was probably one of the most talked about celebrities in 2012 among the 21-35 female demographic.
Danny Fay Comments:
Thanks for taking the time to taste through our wines and hear our story Cyril. Although most people come in because of Ben's national exposure, they leave understanding the passion of our family and friend circus called Envolve Winery. Cheers!
We received news from the Washington Wine Industry Foundation announcing that they recently received a $174,000 grant to develop safety education for small to mid-sized wineries to reduce workplace injuries with on-demand and self-directed training.
This grant will be used to identify safety and training gaps in small to mid-sized wineries, and develop performance-based training that would be accessible to employees in both English and Spanish in multiple formats including mobile apps, videos, CDs, winery safety committees, hands-on and classroom training. The project targets wineries that lack resources to develop safety training programs and help them meet the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act regulations.
The grant will also establish a focus group from the Washington wine industry to provide input on safety training needs and workable solutions.
Funding is provided by the State of Washington, Department of Labor and Industries, Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) Program.
Completion of the project is scheduled for July 2014.
Some news from Jordan Winery about their new bottling line:
Jordan Winery’s new “Ferrari of bottling lines” is currently running full-throttle. Dubbed “The Super Block” by its Italian manufacturer MBF, the workings of this bottling equipment was observed first-hand by Jordan Winemaker, Rob Davis, and Assistant Winemaker, Maggie Kruse, during a visit to MBF’s Verona facility. This new winery addition not only picks up where the previous line fell short, but also transcends the capabilities of other modern-day bottling line equipment. The biggest issue with the previous bottling line, other than the frequent jamming issues, was the dissolved oxygen pickup. With the Super Block, this pickup is minimal at only 0.02 part per million (ppm), allowing for all bottles to be filled with a total of under 1 ppm.
Some growers are already talking harvest on Twitter. What is everyone doing to get ready for harvest?
@ThomsonVyrds (Thomson Vineyards): #2013Harvest is T+\- 90 days away. $1000 just went into #Ford 350 steering linkage for all The Farmers favorite clients grape hauling needs.
@Sonomagrapes (Nick Frey): Warm and sunny weather continues in Sonoma County. Grape development well ahead of last year. Good prospects for vintage 2013.
We just received a press release from the British Columbia Wine Institute announcing that ChefmeetsBCGrape raised $40,000 for the Arts Clun Theatre, the biggest not-for-profit organization of its kind in Western Canada.
The largest annual celebration of the Wines of British Columbia and local food in Vancouver, ChefmeetsBCGrape showcased 95 BC wineries pouring more than 375 BC VQA wines, and 15 top restaurants to a crowd of more than 500 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers announced the date for the next Wine + Grape Expo:
Mark your calendar for the most highly-anticipated wine and grape industry events in the North Coast region - 2013 Wine + Grape EXPO. The Wine + Grape EXPO is a highly focused educational symposium for the winegrape grower and wine producer. The EXPO will include seminars that focus on specific vineyard practices as they relate to wine quality as well as an exclusive tradeshow with the industry’s leading viticulture and enology companies. See the event schedule here.
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers invite Napa County farmworkers and their families to join in a celebration with food, music, seminars, family activities, community organizations and more on July 21 at St. John the Baptist Parish Hall, 924 Napa Street, Napa. The event is free.
Learn about the extraordinary programs that local organizations provide for the families of our farmworker community! Click here for a full list of participating community partners. Limited space still available, please contact Robyn Bishop at firstname.lastname@example.org for booth information.
Día de la Familia will feature a keynote presentation by Salvador & Oscar Renteria, Renteria Wines. Click here for the full event schedule.
Help us promote the event by distributing Día de la Familia flyers or postcards to your vineyard workers!
Día de la Familia Flyer – in Spanish
Día de la Familia Flyer – in English
If you are interested in participating in this important community event, volunteer opportunities are available. Please contact Robyn Bishop at email@example.com for more details.
For more information about the event visit www.napagrowers.org or contact the NVG office at (707) 944-8311
Across the news desk this week was a legislative update from the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association:
The 83rd regular session of the Texas Legislature is finally over. While a Special Session began immediately, it does not have anything to do with liquor...yet. In some ways this was the toughest session the Association has ever faced, but in all ways a completely successful one for the Association. About ninety-five bills were filed proposing to amend the Alcoholic Beverage Code. About twenty-seven of them passed. Click here for a quick snapshot of the passed bills of most interest to us.
I saw this posted by a coffee shop I "like" on Facebook, and thought it was pretty good, so I had to share (but changed it to wine instead of coffee, of course):
Social Media Explained
Twitter: I'm drinking wine
Facebook: I like wine
Foursquare: This is where I drink wine
YouTube: Here I am drinking wine
Linkedin: My skills include drinking wine
Pinterest: Here's a wine-pairing recipe
Instagram: Here's a vintage photo of my wine
The Napa Valley Grapegrowers is hosting a seminar, "Succession Planning for the Next Generation," at Meadowood Napa Valley on Thursday, June 20. The event is free and for NVG Members Only.
Join us for a dynamic discussion about how to make the right decisions for your family as you begin the process of transferring your vineyard and/or winery business to the next generation. Topics will include: understanding your objectives; planning your exit strategy - retirement vs. selling the business; determining the best business and family structure to achieve your goals; transferring the business to more than one child; understanding your family dynamics; and much more. Click here to register.
If you aren't a NVG member, and want to learn more about succession planning, look for an upcoming article on the topic in Wine Business Monthly in our upcoming August issue. The article will cover what succession planning entails, and some opportunities for increasing cash flow and value, improving management, and dealing with ownership issues.