Ryan Chartrand

The hot African sun beat down as the safari explorers went out to bring back a prize. The bushes clear and suddenly they spot the gorilla in its natural habitat. They quickly find their net and slowly creep forward. That creep turns into a rolling run and these fierce explorers capture the gorilla as it lies fully enveloped in the net, struggling with all its energy to escape.

Well … perhaps the story goes, the sun beat down in Paso Robles as two Cal Poly girls dressed in safari outfits at the Paso Robles Wine Festival make their way through a jungle of people. These lovely ladies actually tackled another winery worker dressed in a gorilla suit in front of a crowded dance area at the festival. Perhaps though, they were tackling the competition. This is all part of some wineries new strategies for marketing, gorilla marketing that is. At the Paso Robles Wine Festival, stickers were passed out and “cork” necklaces were handed out. These additional bits of branding are quite silly outside the event’s walls, but inside, are sheer marketing brilliance.

More and more wineries are becoming more laid back and approachable for new wine drinkers. For example, one winery, Midlife Crisis Winery, appeals to the middle-aged crowds. The owners of the winery actually purchased this winery instead of an expensive sports car when they came to their very own midlife crisis.

Another example of a winery thinking outside the box is Clautiere Vineyard in Paso Robles. They use wigs to entice customers that don’t take their wine all that seriously. It offers a fun, friendly, non-threatening atmosphere to experiment with wigs and, more importantly, wine.

Back to gorillas and beautiful safari girls. The idea of interactive wine promotion is a new and innovative one. The attention brings curious customers to the winery, which is the primary intent. The team went around passing out “safari glasses” to wear with the name and address of the winery. With the safari idea, the Cass Winery team promoted the wineries new Rose, called Serengeti. The black and white zebra striped label clearly promotes a wild African adventure for those who purchase it.

Getting people to take notice of a gorilla and two safari girls is only half the battle. Hopefully, these inquisitive customers will make it to the actual winery to take advantage of the whole Cass line-up.

Cass Winery is located in between Paso Robles and Creston. One hundred percent of the wines made at Cass are Estate Grown. The vineyards surround the tasting room and winery, making the experience interactive for the wine rover. Another feature of the winery includes the restaurant on the premises. In addition, Cass is one of the only few wineries that offers free shipping of their wine club selections. They are located at 7350 Linne Rd., Paso Robles, CA 93446. Contact them at (805) 239-1730 or online at www.casswines.com.

Lauren Jeter is a 2005 wine and viticulture graduate pursuing a master’s degree in agribusiness.

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