Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Winegrape Commission just completed a month-long promotion for Sonoma County wines at Legal Sea Foods restaurants throughout the East Coast, and in the words of Legal Sea Foods’ Vice President of Beverage, Sandy Block, MW, “The program that you facilitated with us to promote Sonoma County wine and culture was an outstanding success, not only in terms of the unprecedented volume of wine guests ordered (over 1,150 cases during the 28 day focus period) but also in terms of the diversity of the wines and the level of awareness of the county as a quality producer.”
The program included the feature of nine wines from throughout Sonoma County selected by Legal Sea Foods that were featured at their 32 locations in a stand-alone branded menu with pairing suggestions, wine descriptions, and suggested tasting flights designed by Sandy Block, Master of Wine and Vice President of Beverage for the company. Winemaker dinners, advertisements in the Sunday magazine sections of the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, signage in every restaurant, print and on-line promotion, staff training and tastings, and educational materials were also included in the partnership for maximum impact.
In addition to the many Legal Sea Foods customers who ordered the wines featured in the Sonoma County program, the promotion made millions of impressions on other consumers, with over 600,000 Legal Sea Foods guests receiving special menu inserts with maps and other Sonoma County wine marketing materials, an estimated 100,000 website visitors, and 70,000 recipients of an email “blast” that described the wines featured in the program and what made them uniquely suited for the featured seafood menu. There were also 4,000 social media impressions generated during the promotion.
Block attributed the record-setting success and passion for the Sonoma County Wines program to several important factors:
1) There was great “buy in” from staff because of good inclusion of popular varietals, such as Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio by the glass.
2) Legal Sea Foods service teams “hit the ground running” due to familiarity with some wines and due to the outstanding training sessions conducted by the Sonoma County team.
3) There was a somewhat unanticipated strong level of excitement generated about Sonoma among both Legal Sea Foods staff and customers for the wines and the place as a destination.
4) Due to the great training, materials, and advance preparation, Legal Sea Foods staff were able to grasp and recommend the comparative wine tasting flights.
5) The program generated very positive feedback from guests that encouraged servers to keep recommending the wines. It was also interesting that far more guests took the Sonoma County feature menus with them than with any previous promotion, requiring that they be re-printed several times!
6) Sonoma County Vintners coordinated an extremely successful series of winemaker dinners to support the program and build awareness.
All of the wines selected for the Sonoma County Wines program will remain on Legal Sea Foods menus through January 2012, but during the 28 day promotional period, over 1,150 cases of Sonoma County wines were sold. In addition, several new Sonoma County wine placements were made as a result of the success of the program.
“We are very pleased with the outcome of this partnership between Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Winegrape Commission with Legal Sea Foods,” said Honore Comfort, Executive Director of Sonoma County Vintners. “The results exceeded our projections, and set the stage for pursuing other strategic partnerships like this in the future.”
“It is gratifying to see such strong interest in Sonoma County as a region demonstrated in this partnership with Legal Sea Foods,” said Nick Frey, President of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. “It is clear that consumers want to know more about our regions and our wines, and a promotion like this is an excellent vehicle for reaching both consumers and trade.”