One Hundred Years of Passionate Winemaking
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

One Hundred Years of Passionate Winemaking

The integrated program leveraged the centennial spotlight to heighten awareness of the BV name, recognize the successes of BV's industry peers -- competing winemakers -- as well as incorporate cause-related activities.

Paul Holmes

  As one of the oldest vineyards in the Napa Valley to produce world-class wines, Beaulieu Vineyard (BV) celebrated its 100th birthday in 2000. Founded by a native of France, Georges de Latour, and set on a course of excellence by famed winemaker Andre Tschelistcheff, BV had a glorious -- yet relatively unknown -- heritage with which to tell its centennial story.  Working with Hill and Knowlton, BV designed a year-long, multi-faceted branding campaign with each element targeting a specific audience: wine media, general media, trade and consumers.  The integrated program leveraged the centennial spotlight to heighten awareness of the BV name, recognize the successes of BV's industry peers -- competing winemakers -- as well as incorporate cause-related activities, a key objective in BV's marketing campaign.
BV's 100th birthday provided an opportunity to bolster media attention to what had been increasingly perceived of as a vineyard which produced quality wines, yet with an image bordering on staid. Centennial activities were designed to reinvigorate the BV image, positioning it as a classic yet contemporary vineyard.  While many of BV's closest competitors have greater visibility in the marketplace, and some of its Napa Valley neighbors are owned by high-profile celebrities, BV recognized that it could leverage centennial activities to attain its own celebrity cache, with the implied endorsement of celebrity chefs and fellow winemakers.   Through a year-long centennial campaign, BV could re-position itself as one of America's top vineyards, among consumers, industry partners and the local community.  The centennial also provided BV with the opportunity to establish itself as an industry leader by recognizing its peers and enhance brand image and goodwill through association with community causes.
BV's history was thoroughly researched for incorporation in media messages, as well as for presentation in the Centennial book. 
BV reviewed several authors before selecting Rod Smith, recipient of the 2000 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Magazine Writing and a Wine & Spirits magazine contributor.  
The BV archives, including old photographs and interviews with late BV winemakers, were researched; interviews were conducted with Dorothy Tchelistcheff, wife of BV's prominent winemaker, Andre Tchelistcheff; and several sources on wine and California were consulted. 
Charities and social organizations were reviewed to determine causes most closely linked to BV's philanthropic outlook.
Share Our Strength -- a leading anti-hunger organization -- was selected as the cause for the food and wine tasting.  The organization was a favorite of several chef participants and a natural match for the event's theme.
The Napa Valley Community Center, which represents the Farmworker Committee, was chosen as the recipient of the Gala Auction.  BV's intent was to give something back to the community without which it could not successfully function.  The auction proceeds, and BV's matching funds, are currently facilitating the construction of migrant farmers' housing in the region.
In preparation for the Maestro Awards, BV researched the contributions of industry leaders, finally selecting Ernest Gallo, Robert Mondavi, John DeLuca and Marvin Shanken as the award winners.
BV's target audience included consumers, industry partners and the local community.  The multi-faceted campaign was designed to grow brand awareness as well as increase sales.  In addition, the event was designed to portray BV as a leading corporate citizen and a benefactor to charities and social causes.
Beaulieu Vineyards and Hill and Knowlton combined public relations, special event coordination and community outreach to create a strategic approach which would increase visibility among consumers, generate increased sales, and raise BV's profile within the industry.    Over a year, BV and H&K developed activities including: staging a colorful Centennial weekend celebration to secure widespread mainstream media coverage, national and regional; create sampling opportunities for wine media and trade in order to increase number of positive reviews for BV in wine publications, and increase sales of BV to wholesalers, distributors, restaurateurs and retailers; expose BV to consumer audiences in order to increase sales in restaurants and in retail establishments; and identify appropriate charities for BV to incorporate into its centennial activities.
Working with Hill & Knowlton, BV designed a multi-faceted Centennial program, with each element targeting a specific audience: wine media, general media, trade and consumers.
Centennial Preview Activities – 1999
BV developed a series of collateral and activities in 1999 to generate consumer and media awareness for the upcoming Centennial year.  By beginning a year in advance, BV planned to generate coverage in advance of their Fall 2000 suite of activities as well as increase sales throughout the year, not just in last quarter.  Elements included:
Creation of distinctive Centennial Logo and Tagline: “One Hundred Years of Passionate Winemaking”
Development of Centennial press kit and collateral
New York luncheon and tasting for national wine media to announce upcoming Centennial activities
Commission of four-color photo-illustrated Centennial book, Private Reserve, on the history of BV.
Centennial Activities - 2000
1.         Wine Media Day – Friday, September 15, 2000
Historic BV Vertical Tasting – Approximately 40 of the country’s leading wine media were invited to the original de Latour home in Rutherford for a vertical tasting of BV’s Georges de Latour Private Reserve from 1942 to 1999.  H&K provided photos of the event to accompany their stories.

Maestro Awards – During the tasting, BV president John Philips presented BV’s first Maestro Award, named after its famed winemaker, “Maestro” Andre Tschelistcheff. The award went to four individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the wine industry: two of BV’s most illustrious competitors, Ernest Gallo and Robert Mondavi; John DeLuca, founder of The Wine Institute; and Marvin Shanken, publisher of Wine Spectator.  For BV to honor such an illustrious group and have them present at its celebration was a most strategic and newsworthy element of the program.  A press release and captioned photos were sent to wine media across the country.
  BV’s Consumer Double-Header in San Francisco’s Union Square – Saturday, September 16, 2000
Celebrity Grape Stomp – Harking back to the early days of winemaking, BV staged a Celebrity Grape Stomp in Union Square, with competing teams comprised of Lucille Ball look-alikes (recreating the famous “I Love Lucy” Grape Stomp episode), BV winemakers and president, John Philips, NBA Golden State Warriors and San Francisco media personalities. The event presented celebrity endorsement of the BV product to a large consumer audience, as well as associated the brand with one of America's most beloved popular icons.   BV signage was everywhere and Union Square will filled with consumer onlookers.  H&K had alerted local media and calendar editors, and arranged a satellite b-roll feed that resulted in placements across the country.  Every one of San Francisco’s leading television stations covered the event.
Food & Wine Pairing to Benefit “Share Our Strength “ - A food and wine tasting was also held in San Francisco's Union Square, the city's most prominent public location and branded with BV signage to generate consumer awareness and local media coverage in BV's home market.  Adjacent to the Grape Stomp staging area was an enormous white tent with 10 of San Francisco’s leading restaurants serving signature items paired with specific BV wines. By pairing with top, trendy restaurants, BV associated itself with a premiere, contemporary epicurean experience.  This was a ticketed consumer event, with proceeds going to “Share Our Strength”, America’s leading anti-hunger organization. The charity beneficiary for the event was selected as an ideal complement to the event because it works to alleviate hunger in the U.S. and abroad.  BV’s alliance with top chefs enhanced its quality image, and this element of the program secured its role as a corporate citizen concerned with social causes.
Centennial Gala and Charity Auction for the Trade – September 16, 2000
Several hundred of the most important wholesalers, distributors, retailers and restaurateurs were invited to celebrate with BV at a Centennial Gala held at the Western St. Francis in San Francisco with NBC’s Jay Leno and an auction of rare BV wines and memorabilia to benefit Napa Valley Community House, the most important charity for the housing of migrant workers in the area’s vineyards.  This event was clearly designed to increase sales to the trade, and to further solidify the position of BV as a concerned corporate citizen. To create a halo effect surrounding the gala Maestro dinner, BV leveraged celebrity endorsement by inviting celebrity chefs nationwide, including to participate by preparing a personal recipe, to be paired with a BV wine.  This generated additional media attention on a national level.
H&K’s activities included creation of media lists, media alerts/calendar listings, press releases, media pitching, celebrity grape stomp concept and publicity, satellite feed, photo distribution and media follow-up.
Due to ongoing publicity throughout 2000, BV wine sales increased 35.6% over 1999 figures
In the last quarter of 2000, after the Centennial activities and resulting publicity, BV wine sales increased 25.6% over 1999 figures
Wine Enthusiast named BV "Winery of the Year" in their First Annual Wine Awards
Feature stories in all of the major wine trades, including Wine Spectator, Drinks International, Wine & Sprits,etc.
BrandWeek cover story on BV's new image in its centennial year
Pre-event and day-of coverage in the San Francisco market on KGO-TV (ABC), KPIX-TV (CBS), KRON-TV (NBC), KTVU-TV (FOX), and KNTV-TV (San Jose independent).
Feature story on KPIX-TV "Evening Magazine" in San Francisco.
National coverage on Fox News Channel and the Game Show Network.
Satellite b-roll pick up on stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Houston, Tampa, Cleveland, Miami, Phoenix, Denver, St. Louis, Portland, Baltimore, San Diego, Seattle, Indianapolis, Hartford, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Sacramento, Columbus, and others.  In total, the b-roll more than 200 television placements across the country.
The San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Napa Valley Register (color feature), San Francisco Bay Guardian, San Francisco Business Times, Wine Spectator, and others.
Frequent airplay on K101-FM and KKSF - 103.7 FM (BV radio partners), as well as editorial coverage on KGO - Talkradio 810 AM, KBZS - Business Radio 1220 AM (interviews with BV resident John Philips as an industry expert), KCBS - Newsradio 740 AM.
Website publicity: (SF Tourism page),, (AOL placement),, (New York Times),
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