Authenticity has become a major buzz word in the wine business. Wine marketing consultants will tell you that consumers, and not just millennials, want an authentic experience and a unique story, even more than a good deal, and they would be right. However, when it comes to defining what authenticity means, it becomes harder. We tend to have a clear idea of what it is not, and we recognize it when we encounter it, but building your our own authentic brand can be a challenge.
The Wine Industry Advisor along with a small group of wine and food writers was invited to an Earth Day luncheon at the Coppola Winery where they would introduce their Director and Director’s Cut spring releases, and talk about the winery’s sustainability efforts while enjoying food from the winery’s restaurant Rustic between vines.
Sustainability is trending in the wine industry, especially in Sonoma County with the Sonoma County Winegrowers ambitious five year goal of becoming 100% sustainable certified, but it is not terribly unique, nor is connecting it with an Earth Day celebration. However, the execution of the event at Coppola made it feel special and authentic.
Viticulturist Lise Asimont and winemaker Sandy Walheim were our hosts, but there were no presentations or marketing spiels, though the winery is both certified sustainable and a Sonoma County Green Business. Instead we enjoyed conversation, wines, and great food from Chef Timothy Bodell’s kitchen.
This was a marketing event, and Lise, Sandy, and Timothy were happy to answer questions about their wines, sustainability efforts, and sourcing of food, but the remarkable part is that it did not feel like a sell, but a natural extension of the winery’s story.
Francis Ford Coppola is a celebrity, however, the impression you get of the winery is not that it fits with the trendy celebrity wines, but with family wineries. Mr. Coppola’s family values and wine culture seems to be ingrained in the operation of the winery across the menu, wines, and events. And so our luncheon between the cabernet vines of H block felt like a family outing.
It is certain that Mr. Coppola’s celebrity is a boon to the brand, but the continued success of the winery is bolstered by their ability to create unique and authentic experiences for their guest much like their Tasting in the Dark events. It will be interesting to see if they can continue to create another strong authentic brand around the recently purchased Geyser Peak Winery.
By Kim Badenfort