Marketing,PR Advice,Wine

What to do with those gold medals…

This question came up at a UC Davis PR Extension class: PR for Small Wineries, where Jose, Steve Heimoff, and Bart Hansen (Dane Cellars) and I were presenters for Rusty Eddy’s annual class on wine PR. It then came up the following year. I can’t write about this enough.

[NOTE TO SELF: If I’m asked back to Rusty’s class again next year, make sure this is a topic of conversation, because Steve will back me up on this one, even though the class won’t want to hear it, for the most part.]

This is a constant question that’s asked by winery owners, once the gold medal has been achieved.

My first answer is always, “Let’s just make sure that you don’t ask me to write a press release and go tell every writer you and I know.”


Writers are looking for news; a gold, silver, or bronze (kissed-on-the-lips-by-your-sister) medal isn’t news, in the correct sense of the word. There are tons of wine competitions, some more credible than others, some more relevant to a region (Sonoma County Harvest Fair, for instance, impacts wines sales in Sonoma County), there are some where the panel of judges are just sommeliers, etc.

So, back to the original question, because it’s a common one, a good one on many levels, and I’ve got great marketing answers for you.

Tell the world, sans wine writers. If writers happen to fall upon the news (in a wine shop on a bottle of wine as a shelf talker), within social media options like Facebook and Twitter, your newsletter and your blog), not to worry. That’s an accidental happenstance. And, they’ll digest it their own way.

The audience for this news is consumers… p-e-r-i-o-d.

Get the word out there in as many ways as you can, as I mentioned above:

  • Get your marketing department to create shelf talkers, and hand them to your sales team
  • Social media options
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
  • Your newsletter
  • Your blog
  • O-n-l-y Media
    • Your local newspaper (they’ll post all awards, sports, academic, artistic, business, which also includes wine)
    • www.AlaWine.com

You’re the one responsible for spreading the news to the right people, but not the media; with the exception of your local newspaper and the AlaWine site.


Imagine being a wine writer, and you’ve decided to start writing about gold medals. Honestly, that’s all you’ll ever write about again. With over 6,000 wine brands in California (alone), if each one has six wines that are being offered (give or take), that’s 36, 000 potential awards that could be given out in a year’s time, in just one wine competition. Let’s say there are about 30 wine competitions. That’s an astounding number of 1,080,000 potential awards.

Okay, not every wine gets a medal, so let’s take that back by a third, that’s still 360,000 potential stories–again, for California, alone–and we’ve only got 365 days in the year.

There’s only one Website in the world so diligently devoted. It’s AlaWine.com; so make hay while the sun shines on that vintage, and get ready to do it all over again next year… and all the years thereafter, because it’s part of your marketing job.

Just don’t think this is “news” in the United States; because, while it may be to you (and it should be), it’s not news for writers looking for meaty stories.

Your fans will love knowing, so go for it in that arena.

And, by-the-way, congratulations on a job well done.

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4 Responses to “What to do with those gold medals…”

  1. Jo’s wrong! I want to hear about every gold, silver, bronze and dung medal any wine in the world wins. NOT! And while we’re on the subject, I’m sure that Jim Laube doesn’t appreciate getting a Steve Heimoff review in his press kit, any more than I appreciate getting a Jim Laube review in mine! So PR people, take a tip from Jo.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    That’s so funny, Steve. I’m giving away a lot of free advice on this blog, but it doesn’t stop the madness, does it?

  3. Felicia says:

    Jo, Thank you! As coordinator for several wine competitions run by Robert Whitley (Sommelier Challenge, Critics Challenge, Winemaker Challenge, San Diego International and soon to be introducted Mainly Meritage) I see missed opportunities for promoting wine awards by wineries on Twitter, Facebook etc. Not sure if it is modesty, lack of inititive or imagination, not enough time, or some combination of factors. Wineries, tweet about winning the award — if it’s one of ours, we will re-tweet it (include competition twitter name or website so I can find it, or DM me so I don’t miss it). Include “award winning wines” in your bios. Put links to your website in your tweets leading to your list of awards. Mention it on wine-specific social sites like MustLoveWine.com. Do “In honor of our recent Gold medal at Sommelier Challenge, we are offering 10% off…” promotions.

    As to Press Releases and media contacts, I think wineries have to give more of a story than JUST that they won medals, but certainly no harm in mentioning the medals when submitting a press release of substance.

    Thanks again, Jo, for another great post. You are aways worth reading!

  4. Felicia says:

    I should also thank AlaWine for posting the wine competition results. Greatly appreciated!

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