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Next: Wine Launch Videos?

Like most people in the wine trade, I am daily deluged with messages from wine producers understandably trying to get attention for their new vintage launches or introductions of new brands.  They are all seeking a way to have their brands stand out from among the thousands of other news wines from around the world being launched or released.  Press releases by e-mail are the most-common format, but there are also multiple invitations to trade tastings, bottle samples left on doorstep, images of cleverly designed new labels made available.

I like Brandon Allen’s idea better.  Allen, owner/winemaker for SLO Down Wines, figured that making good wines was just the first step.  Nothing new there.  Next, he gave his wines clever names, like “Sexual Chocolate” and “Broken Dreams.”  Same old, same old.  Third came funkily designed labels intended to stand out from all the other labels intended to stand out on wine shop shelves.  Yawn.

But Allen really caught my attention when I saw the wine launch video on YouTube from a couple of years back of Sexual Chocolate.  It opens with a shot of the mustachioed Allen in a tuxedo jacket swirling a red wine in a glass at eye level.  We expect him to launch into his Orson Wells tribute, but what he is saying instead sounds like political campaign double-speak.  Then he pivots into an adjacent room where we find he is wearing only a thong below his coat tails, and an R-rated couple is making out on the bed.  Allen’s message: Sexual Chocolate goes well with anything, even threesomes.

The light bulb popped on over my head: Why don’t more wineries do this – launch their wines with videos the way that we for decades first heard new album cuts debuting on MTV and through streaming videos?  Not that I expect Jean-Bernard, Charles, Frédéric, Pierre and the other directors of first-growth châteaux in Bordeaux to strip down to their skivvies – in fact, I’d much rather they didn’t!  But I’m sure that their marketing agencies would love to produce launch videos that could be informing, entertaining, inspiring, tell little stories, smack us with breathtaking photography or be hilarious and sexy if they want to.

Allen and SLO Down are not the only winery to do wine launch videos, but there only a small handful that do – amazing for such a diverse industry.  Jordan winery, for example, recently posted a short wine video to launch the release of its 2012 Cabernet.  In it, Jordan winemaker Rob Davis and two assistants smell and sip the wine, discussing its attributes as well as their remembrances of the 2012 harvest – a good educational approach to WLVs.  It is now viewable on YouTube and Jordan’s website. 

I think WLV’s are another idea whose time has come, and I here and now volunteer to be a judge in the First Annual Wine Launch Video Awards – the Sippys or the Sniffys.  Roll the red carpet, please! Nominations are now being accepted for screening.

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