Home Wine Business Editorial Sales & Marketing Winning Outreach: Wine Marketing Awards Seek to Inspire and Inform

Winning Outreach: Wine Marketing Awards Seek to Inspire and Inform


Nominations close March 15 for these revived honors.

By Kathleen Willcox 


Awards are generally designed to recognize and reward excellence, innovation and creativity. The Wine Marketing Awards are intended to do that, but also to inspire wineries, marketing agencies and wine regions to sharpen and improve the way they communicate and reach out to consumers.

While wine’s history is long — around 8,000 years give or take a century or two — it would be difficult to recall a period in modern history that is more fraught with challenge. These awards are motivated by a desire to recognize the moment we are in as an industry, while helping to lay the groundwork for a successful future.

George Christie, Wine Industry Network President & CEO
George Christie, Wine Industry Network
President & CEO

“Despite all of the editorial out there about how challenging it is for the industry right now, there are still so many brands who are winning over new wine lovers without losing the ones they’ve had for years,” says George Christie, founder and CEO of Wine Industry Network. “These successful brands are finding innovative ways to engage with consumers, and these awards will celebrate and acknowledge their hard work, and maybe inspire others along the way.”

History of WMA

While most awards are given to recognize a relatively specific niche — from dry red blend or best canned sparkling wine — these are deliberately broad, Christie explains. The categories may include, but are not limited to Best Brand Launch, Outstanding Digital Marketing Campaign, Print Advertisement, Innovative Social Media Engagement, Video, Wine Club Program, Tasting Room Campaign and Exceptional Packaging Design. 

The Wine Marketing Awards were established by serial entrepreneur, founder and CEO MJ Dale as the Vinnie Awards in 2018. After a brief pause in the distribution of Vinnies, Dale says she is thrilled to see the Wine Industry Network take the awards and transform them to recognize and meet the needs of a post-COVID marketing world.  

“I ran customer marketing nationally for AT&T Wireless and served as chief marketing officer at Gateway Computers, so I learned early on how challenging and exciting it can be to attract and retain customers in a hyper-competitive market,” Dale says. “When I began working in wine, especially as laws around wine-marketing changed, I realized that brands and regions have many of the same challenges. Marketing campaigns can be such a powerful tool in reaching people, and we need to recognize, especially post-COVID, their power.”

Christie agrees, noting that the wine industry’s “a rising tide will lift all boats” ethos has helped it emerge victorious following previous periods laden with obstacles. 

“I’ve been fortunate to serve on a few winery association boards in Sonoma County and, technically, your fellow board members are also your competitors. But there’s never hesitation in working together on programs that would bring people to Sonoma County and highlight the quality of wines produced here”

Liz Thach, Wine Market Council

Christie says that he hopes that same spirit of communal celebration and cooperative work pervades the Wine Marketing Awards. “The quality of the work done will dictate the awards this year,” Christie says. “We are excited to see what comes in.”

Winners will be chosen after judges assess a brand, marketing agency or region’s ability to clearly share their intended message, engage with their target audience and drive awareness and sales.

Enter now for consideration

Jennifer Warrington, WISE Academy
Jennifer Warrington, WISE Academy

A panel of marketing experts from inside the wine industry will assess entries. In addition to (appropriately) MJ Dale, judges include Liz Thach (president of Wine Market Council), Jen Warrinigton (WISE Academy) and Damien Wilson (Hamel Family faculty chair of Wine Business at Sonoma State University). 

Winners will be presented in conjunction with the Wine Sales Symposium on May 16, 2024. The Wine Sales Symposium is a conference focused on delivering insights, advice and predictions from industry experts to wineries looking to grow sales and/or profits. (Learn more and register here). 

Damien Wilson, Hamel Family Faculty Chair of Wine Business / Sonoma State University

“These awards will set benchmarks in the industry for creativity and excellence,” Christie says. “We hope they will encourage even greater innovation and excellence in the future.

“Raising awareness of what is working in the marketing and selling of wine feels more important than ever right now,” he continues. “We already celebrate industry vendors with our WINnovation Awards, and recognize individuals who are raising the bar with our annual Most Inspiring People Awards. We see the Wine Marketing Awards as a way to celebrate what brands and regions are doing.”

Entries are due by March 15, 2024. To nominate your company or another brand or region, go here


Kathleen Willcox

Kathleen Willcox writes about wine, food and culture from her home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She is keenly interested in sustainability issues, and the business of making ethical drinks and food. Her work appears regularly in Wine Searcher, Wine Enthusiast, Liquor.com and many other publications. Kathleen also co-authored a book called Hudson Valley Wine: A History of Taste & Terroir, which was published in 2017. Follow her wine explorations on Instagram at @kathleenwillcox