Were we interested and could MWI help facilitate the program? Needless to say… this is totally in line with MWI’s mission “to promote the quality and image of Mendocino County grapes and wine with three target audiences:
- Decision makers who buy grapes
- press and trade groups who write about, sell, or recommend wine, and
- consumers who buy wine.”
And, a few short months later, over 2000 cases of Mendocino wines were sold thru 44 stores in Northern CA and Reno! The process was very straightforward and expedient.
We sent an email to all MWI winery members who produce wine in Mendocino County detailing the specific requirements that WFM outlined for wines to be considered (quantity and distribution). There were of course some obligations for MWI: coordinating the wine tasting to evaluate the wines, helping to underwrite the instore demo program, and development of promotional materials.
In short order Melanie was here to taste through no less than 70 wines that were submitted for consideration. It was a big day! Melanie narrowed the field to just 10 wines, and then ultimately 6 wines to be included in this 60-day program (March – April) for a Mendocino promotion in 44 WFM stores in Northern California and Reno.
Here are Melanie’s reflections: “Six months ago, I googled ‘Mendocino Wine’ and the first site to pop up (after the inevitable Total Wine!) was Mendowine.com. I sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and from there, a 2000+ case, $300,000 + promotion was executed, in less than 90 days.
Mendocino Winegrowers was everything I had hoped for in a marketing and planning partner and then some: enthusiastic, progressive, organized, patient, generous with time and resources, and knowledgeable in all things Mendocino.
I never once heard “I can’t” or “I’m sorry I forgot to…” from Bernadette or any of the amazing wineries I worked with. In fact, the bar was set so high, I’m not sure we’ll be able to continue with the AVA program, as we are beginning to think Mendocino will be forever unmatched, a singular triumph of 6 wines in the right stores at the right prices.
And yet, experience tells me it is more than just providence that made the Mendocino AVA program such a success at Whole Foods Market; this AVA is generations in the making. The consumer’s willingness to embrace the wines didn’t happen solely because we put them out there, but because the marketing, storytelling, and excellence in winemaking here were waiting to burst forth like a volcano.
Hitting all marks for transparency, lower alcohols, higher acid, amazing price points, and family farming, the inherent values of Mendocino are aligned with what many wine drinkers are seeking – wines with intent, purpose, and integrity.
I believe that Mendocino Winegrowers is one of the finest marketing organizations in the world; in fact, I know it is. All members should be aware and proud of the fine reputation Mendocino wines have, and I will continue to encourage and support Mendocino wines for the rest of my life.”Melanie Mann, Whole Foods Market Regional Wine Buyer for Northern California and Reno