Marketing 101 ~ When You Get a Gold Medal, What to Do With It

This question came up at the 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.

This is a constant question that’s asked by winery owners, once the gold medal has been achieved (and I get a lot of communications to tell me about winning an award).

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 the 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, because there are 10,000 wineries… Imagine the communications that would be coming in if every brand wanted to toot its horn!

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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20 Responses to “Marketing 101 ~ When You Get a Gold Medal, What to Do With It”

  1. Old John says:

    We give the medals to the growers who supply us with the grapes. This way they get to share in the win.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Old John,

    That’s the best use of medals I’ve ever heard of. That’s a great story.

  3. Richard says:

    Thanks for this Jo – I racked up about thirty medals in two years on only two wines (I only produce two) – about 9 of them Gold ones – and they are totally worthless… as are the scores from magazines… the best way to help your brand is to wear out shoe leather and get some name recognition… Sadly, wine is one of the few business’ (there may be others I can’t think of off the top of my head – maybe art or books, which are even more subjective than wine) where having a good product will not necessarily work to your advantage…

  4. Jo Diaz says:


    It sounds like you’re making fabulous wine.

    Another way to tell a media person would be – as just happened – very unwittingly. Find a blog story about something related to your brand, and say something. The fact that you didn’t leave me any winery info is about as pure as it gets. It’s up to my imagination to follow-through, so it’s not going to happen all of the time with all of us, but it will occasionally.

    Now, I want to know what wine you’re talking about, Richard… Intrigue marketing… Hum, I like that.

    And yes, there’s nothing better than saddle leather. I loved selling wine, when it was my turn to do that.

    I do believe that Gold works to your advantage, when worked in the right ways.

    Years ago, it was impossible for me to make a piece of art and then say, “Didn’t I do a great job?” to sell it. It felt so hypocritical. So, I lost sales. It wasn’t until I decided to take that same love of art and turn it around to being a cheerleader for others that I realized I can’t do it for myself, but can for others. You just need a cheerleader. Sounds like you’ve got a good story.

  5. Beau says:

    I have a duality with this issue. As a wine writer I don’t care about medals and in fact, find them to be worthless indicators. Getting press releases from wineries and PR groups announcing medals only frustrates me that much more.

    Yet as a tasting room manager, I am frequently asked by our guests if we have won medals or how our wines do. When that happens, I do start talking about our recent medal wins. However, I have yet to ever sell a bottle based solely on a medal win.

  6. Jo Diaz says:


    As a writer, you shouldn’t be swayed.

    Put your marketing hat on, and now it’s a different story. You never know, unless you do a survey, what you’ve sold because of its status. People are impress by gold, it’s really that simple. Before people buys something, many check out what others have said. Gold counts, just in the right setting… like on my finger…

  7. Beau says:

    I should have been more specific, I meant to say that I’ve never had someone actually tell me they bought one of our wines because of the medal. That said, I’m sure it does happen. From a marketing standpoint, people love shiny things and the image of prestige, medals sure qualify on both counts. Heck, we even had an internal discussion about whether to include bronze medals on our accolades-sheets. I was in the “no way!” camp.

  8. Jo Diaz says:

    I’m in the “no tell about bronze” with you… It’s worse than kissing your sister (or brother, depending on your sexual structure). Silver or gold works for me; being third should just go away… seriously.

  9. Snook says:

    Thanks for the suggestions on marketing and public relations. I would like to let you all know that we will be hosting a wine+cheese pairing in Santa Monica, CA this friday and also a wine, cheese, and art show next week. All wine enthusiasts are much more than welcome. These activities are laid back and interactive. There will be plenty of wine, cheese, food, and amazing art for you to enjoy. If you are interested, join us! http://bit.ly/IT3ZJI

  10. Richard says:

    Jo, if you shoot me an email, I’ll tell you the story – it’s not because I’m shy! ha. But a very long story – and it is sort of “intrigue” marketing! And, BTW, I’m not trying to get publicity – sadly, the way my parents raised me, it seems to me that it would be quite tawdry (a word that belongs to the ages) to do so!

  11. […] Yesterday’s blog was called: Marketing 101 ~ When You Get a Gold Medal, What to Do With It. […]

  12. It varies on the markets but I still consider that the end consumer, specially newcomers to the wine world, regards these medals as well as ratings as a guideline and feel comfortable buying a wine with certain “recognition”.
    I agree that bronze and commended awards could be avoided to mention. They dont add anything to your marketing strategy

  13. Jo Diaz says:

    Yes, Richard, I knew you weren’t trying to get publicity… It was just an innocent comment. I was suggesting it for those who don’t mind being tawdry. (LOL)

  14. Jeff says:

    Why no mention of Best of Class and Double Gold?
    Bronze should never be mentioned in my opinion.

    Nice job on the plagarism by the way.


  15. Jo Diaz says:

    Best of Class and Double Gold never occurred to me, Jeff. Thanks for that one.

    What a great laugh I just had about plagiarism… Did you even look at that story and who it was written by? Try the Dallas Wine Competition taking MY story and publishing it.

    I guess you missed this right at the top:

    “Reprinted with permission from Jo Diaz.”

    I am Jo Diaz.

    I didn’t care that they’ve also published my story, because they gave me credit. Lots of sites aggregate me; when anyone plagiarizes, I put them on notice. Thanks for looking out for me, though.

    That’s so funny, being accused of plagiarizing my own story. You’ve made me really chuckle this morning.

  16. Jeff was joking, I’m sure; only a witling troll would make the accusation without research. Medals are also good for throwing at the heads of obnoxious wine critics – oh, you were just on a panel with one!

  17. Jo Diaz says:

    LOL, Stillman. You just made me day.

  18. Debbie Shu says:

    Wow, this Jeff guy is a tool. He should do a little more research before opening his foolish mouth….I mean it’s like put the wagon before the Jack- ASS.

  19. Katie says:

    Debbie, great use of the word “tool.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  20. Jo Diaz says:

    You girls crack me up.

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