Reinvention. Politicians do it every day sometimes several
times a day but their reinventions rarely come even close
to having the living substance that goes into a bottle of wine.
So when Callaway Vineyard & Winery, the well-known Temecula,
California-based brand owned by Allied Domecq Wines, USA, embarked
on an overhaul of its entire line this year, the effort, unlike
political makeovers, represented much more than an expensive,
superficial polishing of its image.
Weve stripped the entire operation right down to the
bare bones and are bringing it back to life as something completely
new, says Ruth Souroujon, marketing director of Allied Domecqs
California brands. The Callaway that everyone knew is gone.
This is a radical reinvention of our brand.
The reinvention is comprehensive involving geographic,
viticultural, stylistic, and image factors. In September, Callaway
said good-bye to the Temecula Valley appellation on
its wines. Callaway has gone Coastal by sourcing at
least 50% of its grapes from Central Coast growers in Santa Barbara,
San Luis Obispo, and Monterey counties. In 2001, the mix will
be 70% Central Coast, with Temecula grapes having an even smaller
role in succeeding years.
The name will change right along with the grape sourcing
from Callaway Vineyard & Winery to Callaway Coastal Winery.
In addition, the winemaking style itself has changed to a more
contemporary taste profile. For the first time, Callaway
Chardonnay has undergone oak enhancement part of the blend
is barrel-fermented and barrel-aged while its Merlot and
Cabernet Sauvignon are richer, rounder, and more food-friendly,
Marketing the reinvention
And then theres the marketing.
It starts with the new packaging that aims to be hip and stylish,
according to Souroujon. Weve taken our label design
cues from architectural, fashion, and high-end retail industries
to communicate the lifestyle component of wine, she says.
Callaways research has shown that consumers like the warm,
natural palate of colors like saffron, sage, teal, and okra. The
wine package looks great on a restaurant table or in the kitchen,
Talking up a reinvention, at least in a way that will
reach consumers, isnt cheap. Allied Domecq is spending upwards
of $4 million to break its new Callaway Coastal wines
in a national print, TV, radio, and promotional campaign. The
effort aims to reach sophisticated consumers who identify with
the more informal, relaxed approach Callaway is promoting for
To that end, Allied Domecq, which also counts Clos Du Bois, William
Hill Winery, and Atlas Peak Vineyards among its California brands,
hired Open Minds/The Ponzi Group (Laguna Beach, CA) to create
a national ad campaign. The campaign debuted in October, focused
mainly on Chicago, Los Angeles, and northern California markets.
Print and radio ads complement an intensive television blitz on
the Arts & Entertainment cable channel, which industry research
shows wine drinkers watch. Earley & Earley (Half Moon Bay,
CA) has designed promotional materials to accompany the campaign
Open Minds, creators of the wildly successful Budweiser
frogs television campaign, came up with a trademarked Coastal
Standard Time tagline for Callaway wines. Print ads feature
imagery such as four legs (one pair definitely attached to a female,
the other not) dangling barefoot from a hammock, with the ocean
as backdrop. The headline: May we suggest a crisp Chardonnay
with your stud-muffin? The inset reads: 4:24 p.m.
COASTAL STANDARD TIME.
Our company is completely committed to taking wine off its
pedestal, says Souroujon. Weve done a lot of
research preceding this brand reinvention, and what consumers
have been telling us is that theyre intimidated by the wine-buying
process, not only by which wine to buy, but which wine with which
food, and how to order in restaurants. By using relaxed, informal
imagery in our ads, and by pinpointing different times of the
day (or night) when you might enjoy wine, were trying to
tell people that wine fits your lifestyle every day.
To the ongoing dilemma of Which wine, when?
we have an ultra-simple answer: Drink what you like.
Thats why we offer a red and a white option with every one
of our recipe suggestions. People need advice, but were
trying to make the process easier, not more difficult.
Moving to wedge
With its Callaway Coastal line (a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc,
Chenin Blanc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon), Callaway is looking
to become one of the dominant players in the wedge premium
category of wines that fetch $7 to $10 retail, Souroujon says.
The category grew a healthy 12.8% from 1998 to 1999, according
to Gomberg/Fredrickson, wine industry economic consultants in
While the classic premium category of $10 to $14 wines
grew even more robustly at 14.1% in 1999, the market is about
one-third smaller than the wedge premium category. Still, Callaway
will also fight the classic premium turf wars with its Coastal
Reserve label affixed to a Chardonnay, Merlot, and Viognier.
Were seeing consumers more willing to pay for quality,
says Souroujon. Its a natural progression for people
to move up from the popular premium (formerly fighting
varietal) category of $3 to $7 wines as they become more
sophisticated. The bonus for consumers is that the wedge premium
category has evolved into better wines over the past few years
without going up in price. Having access to plentiful quality
grapes is a key to that development.
Such access shouldnt be a problem on the explosive Central
Coast, where eager growers have been busy expanding across the
rolling hills of a huge viticultural region. Such wineries as
Kendall-Jackson, Mondavi, Beaulieu, Meridian, and Fetzer are already
established as major Central Coast players. Now comes Callaway,
seeking grapes to fill 250,000 cases in 2000, 350,000 next year,
and a projected one million cases by 2008.
Were keeping all options open with respect to purchases
on the Central Coast, says George Rose, Allied Domecq spokesperson.
Weve been talking to several growers, exploring a
possible purchase of a winery or property to build a winery. Were
not sure how it will turn out, but we do know well become
a major player there. Understandably, the growers are excited.
With so much buzz attending the brands overhaul, Rose emphasizes
that Temecula continues to be a perfectly functional winery that
has been damaged but not destroyed by Pierces disease and
the glassy-winged sharpshooter. (See sidebar.) Callaway has crushed
Central Coast grapes at custom facilities there and trucked the
juice to Temecula for production and bottling. Whether this will
continue depends on future decisions about establishing a Central
Temecula is a very good facility with a well-established
presence, Rose says. More than 120,000 visitors go
there every year. To many people in Southern California, Temecula
is Wine Country.
Given the brands expansion to the Central Coast, Callaways
winemaker of 19 years, Dwayne Helmuth, wont be able to monitor
the bi-regional operation alone. So in May, assistant winemaker
Darren Proscal, himself a 15-year veteran of Callaway, was promoted
Our entire operation is still in an evolutionary phase,
but we dont anticipate basing one winemaker in Temecula
and the other on the Central Coast, says John Falcone, who
joined Callaway in May as general manager. We have a team
approach, with shared responsibilities. Having worked closely
together for 15 years, Dwayne and Darren have a pretty good idea
of where they want to take the wines.
Quality is the point
Our timing appears to be really good. Theres a lot
of excitement on the Central Coast the tide seems to be
turning there. Quality growers now have another major player hunting
for the best grapes. But I think volume-minded growers will be
hard-pressed. These days, you have to do more than stick vines
in the ground. Grape quality will ultimately determine pricing.
What Falcone and the rest of the Callaway/Allied Domecq team also
know is that wine quality will be the ultimate judge of this reinvention.
In the hot competitive environment the brand is entering on the
Central Coast, Callaway wines wont win any kind of sympathy
vote as the best little wines Temecula ever produced. But Callaway
officials arent looking for sympathy. Theyre just
looking for more, better, and healthier grapes.