I started my classes at INSEEC's Wine & Spirits Institute last week in Bordeaux, and I'll hopefully have my MBA in Wine Marketing and Management next year. In my Sustainable Wine Business course, one of the most important points the professor conveyed to us was that you need to have a "perfect knowledge" of the wine industry if you want to survive in it, and more importantly, make a profit from it. Near the end of class, he emphasized that your "wine story" needs to be memorable when you try to market wine. He used the "F*ck Him" wine series from L.A.S. Vino in Margaret River Australia. Though I should've been thinking more about the profitability of wine business while reviewing my notes, I started thinking more about the use of profanity to market wine. Little did I know that wine labels can have a filthy mouth! I did a bit of research and came across many companies that use profanity on their label. Among my three favorite are from L.A.S. Vino and Church and State Winery.
Nic Peterkin comes from a winemaking family, but he decided to forge his own path and established L.A.S. Vino in Margaret River, Australia. White wines dominate his winery's profile with Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Albino Pinot and a Portuguese blend with Touriga Nacional, Tinta Cão and Sousão. No wonder he was Australia's young winemaker of the year in 2016 with those wines! The one getting the most attention is the F*uck Him Chardonnay series, and it is completely sold out. To promote inclusivity, his wine label reads:
"This 2015 Chardonnay was made in Margaret River, Australia from vines imported from France under Israeli irrigation, tended to by an Italian tractor, with grapes picked by a group of Irish, Germans, Estonians, and Koreans under the supervision of a South African. We pressed the grapes using a Swiss press, and a Mexican winemaker and Dutch girl transferred the wine into French oak. It was then sealed with a cork from Portugal, with wax from the Czech Republic. The wine was bottled with the help of a lesbian, and put into boxes made in Indonesia. This was written using a program downloaded from India with a label designed by a legend in the USA, proofread by an Eurasian Australian woman in New York and is exported to Singapore, Tokyo, China, and the U.K., and drank by those wanting to bring friends together from all countries, ethnicities, sexes, sexualities, and religions. F*CK HIM!"
A very powerful political and economic point, which goes to show that the wine industry could never survive without multiculturalism and inclusivity!
Church and State Wines
The next wine with questionable language comes from the Okanagen Valley in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada. The profanity-laced wines are part of the estate's Lost Inhibitions series that produce a white Viognier-Riesling blend and a red Merlot-Cabernet Franc blend. The labels change vintage to vintage, and past labels included Aren't You a Ray of F*ckin' Sunshine, Oh Bloody Hell, and Hash-Tag This Mother F*cker! The purpose of these provocative labels is to attract consumers to try these entry-level wines, which might encourage them to try ranges of other wines from the estate.
Just a side note, Canada is making much more than just ice wine! Niagara and the Okanagen Valley, Canada's two main wine regions, are producing everything from Bordeaux and Rhône Valley blends to many other international varieties, even Pinot Noir.
If You See Kay
I can't end this entry without this clever name, If You See Kay - just say each word slowly, and you'll get the name of this label.
The wine is from Lazio, Italy and is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Petit Verdot and 5% Primitivo, and the winemaker claims "Kay is a creature; she is an embodiment of a lifestyle, a genre, a feeling in your gut...a force of nature, a wanderer." From looking at the label, I could definitely agree with that Kay is something special. However, the story behind this profane label goes much deeper. The expression "If You See Kay" actually originated from James Joyce's 1922 Ulysses that he adapted from Homer's Odyssey. His novel caused an uproar in the literary world at the time, but later was recognized as one of the greatest Modernist works of all time. The marketing team for If You See Kay linked their brand to Joyce's theme of not playing by the rules, so in just one bottle of red wine, you end up getting a bit of life philosophy and a lifestyle!
There are many more wineries using provocative wine labels to attract consumers in such a competitive market. With Rude Names, Wine Stops Minding its Manners is a useful article that sums up the reasons behind such marketing. Enjoy!