Skift Take

Every region is pushing for wine tourism, so why should the original U.S. wine country stay behind the times? This new campaign tries to rectify that.

“We are knotty. We are nice.”

We are Sonoma County.”

So goes the tag line of a new ad campaign designed to promote Sonoma County’s wine and tourism industries. The print ad campaign, with a knotted old zinfandel vine on the left and plush, trim vineyards on the right, will run nationally in magazines starting in November.

The Sonoma County Vintners, the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau worked together to develop the campaign, using two grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture totaling about $600,000 to fund the project.

A lopsided stamp that reads “Sonoma County” will be the new logo of all three agencies, and will be available for wineries and potentially other companies to stamp on their products.

“It’s reminiscent of the wood-burned stamps on fruit crates and that was a conscious decision,” said Honore Comfort, executive director of Sonoma County Vintners. “We wanted to tie it into our agricultural heritage.”

The campaign was designed to appeal to experience-seekers, people who value events and are genuine, independent and adventurous, traits identified through focus groups with dozens of wineries and surveys of hundreds of consumers.

“Those traits and that combination are unique to this place,” Comfort said. “We’re confident whether we’re in jeans and a pickup truck or heading down to San Francisco and going to the opera.”

The county Tourism Bureau has about one year left on its current ad campaign, “Do you speak Sonoma?” and will integrate the new logo into that campaign, said Tim Zahner, the bureau’s director of public relations and marketing.

“We’ve already been using the brand essence in a lot of what we do,” Zahner said.

The campaign will be adapted for grape growers to promote grapes in trade publications, said Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission.

“Somebody’s been marketing Sonoma County since 1946,” Frey said. “If we’re going to market effectively, we have to be more conscious, more concise.”

The group worked with BHC Consulting, based in Duncans Mills, to develop the brand essence and target audience. Landor Associates, based in San Francisco, designed the logo. The marketing campaign and design guidelines were developed by Asterix Group, also based in San Francisco.

You can reach Staff Writer Cathy Bussewitz at 521-5276 or [email protected]. ___

(c)2012 The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.)

Visit The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.) at

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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