There are a plethora of wine marketing strategies that range from average to poor. The purpose of marketing is to instill an interest in a product to the point at which a consumer is willing to purchase it. With wine, that typically means advertising with bottle shots or a glamorous model bringing a bottle to a party, or through online influencers who promote wines through videos.
Chronic Cellars, a winery in Paso Robles, California, in conjunction with its marketing agent, Benson Marketing, is going a step beyond all that. They've put together a how-to for a wine-themed Halloween party, using their wine, of course.
At first glance, the bottle shouts Halloween. It features a skeleton with a gigantic shield, and the name is 2020 Sir Real (as in surreal) cabernet sauvignon. One might think that’s fine for Halloween, but what happens after the holiday? Well, the skeleton theme appears on their other labels, as well. To create them, the winemaker teamed up with artist Chris Granillo, who was inspired by Mexican artist Jose Posada.
Chronic Cellars was created in 2004 by Josh and Jake Beckett. The name derives from using only the best or “chronic” grapes. Winemaker Kip Lorenzetti aims for wines of character. And the whimsical labels set a non-elitist tone and match other wineries in the Paso Robles region. Chronic produces 11 wines ranging from $16.99 to $45.
So, what is the wine like? The 2020 Sir Real cabernet sauvignon is very deep and dark—a lot of extraction. A smoky aroma leads to a mouth-filling cabernet flavor and long finish. Still young, it will improve with age. Robust in texture, it has plenty of tannin for a long life. An excellent wine for $16.99.
For party ideas, the winery went to Letterboxd to create a list of appropriate horror movies that includes House on Haunted Hill, Army of Darkness and Tombs of the Blind Dead.
Purple Paradise is another featured wine. Although I did not try it, the description sounds exciting. It is primarily made of Zinfandel, which the winemaker claims gives it punch. In addition, the winery created a Spotify playlist for your Halloween shindig, and a QR code on the bottle allows you, through augmented reality, to play a game of dice with the skeleton character on the label.
Bob McGinn has spent his entire career in the wine industry—forming wine clubs, working in wine sales marketing and engaging in all facets of the winemaking process, including vine management, fermentation and yeast analysis. He has developed wine programs for companies such as Marriott, Sheraton and Smith & Wollensky, and consults with local restaurants. You can read more of McGinn’s work at gulfcoastwinejournal.com.