Hahn Family Wines

Wine Spectator cover
Shaken News headlines

Moving a Brand Upmarket

Client: Hahn Family Wines, California

Goal: Transition Hahn Family Winery’s reputation from a $12-$15, mid-sized producer to a luxury Pinot Noir specialist at $30+.


  • Messaging Focus: Align brand with the Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. Extend messaging through sales, DTC, digital marketing, as well as PR.
  • Education: Created a “masterclass” seminar on the entire SLH for use by the winemaker and CEO.
  • Press Trips: Coordinated media trips to include SLH neighbors in order to encourage feature coverage. Managed an exclusive, week-long “California Road Trip” to the state’s leading Pinot Noir AVAs.
  • Media blitz: Periodic press trips and interviews in both trade and consumer lifestyle media.

Select 2021 Results: 100+ media placements, < $10 CPM. Coverage in Forbes, The Zoe Report, San Francisco Chronicle, Uproxx, Wine Spectator, Vinous, VinePair, Hyped Magazine, Mashed, etc.

Montes Wines

Purple Angel label

Connecting with Younger Wine Consumers

Client: Montes Wines

Goal Starting in June 2017 Benson’s goal was to improve consumer engagement following company’s investment in a large but unengaged fan base, as well as to appeal to younger consumers.

Social Strategy

  • Developed more creative content including Benson’s studio photography, moving images, and content connecting Montes brand with attractive aspects of Chilean culture: travel, art, music, cuisine, holidays, etc.
  • Refined messaging to focus on pillars: Chile, sustainability, innovation, leadership, and the brand’s angel icon.

Results: End of 2017

  • Facebook engagement: rose from 2%-4% to 5%-7%
  • Facebook audience: 77% between 25-44 years, indexing younger than general Facebook audience
  • Instagram engagement: rose from 1-2% to 16%-18%
  • Instagram Audience: 50% of Montes’ followers are 34 or younger, indexing younger than general Instagram audience

The campaign continues through 2022, focusing on raising awareness and encouraging retail sales through digital ads.

Smith & Hook Wines

Integrating Earned and Paid Activations

How PR and Paid Amplify Each Other

Client Smith & Hook Wines, Hahn Family Wines

Goal Maximize impressions to raise brand awareness and to support sales efforts to increase PODs, and demand pull in Q421.

Tactics Promote the client’s two key brands during ultra-competitive holiday season using comprehensive PESO model: paid media, earned media, shared media (social posts), and owned media (website, social platforms). Theme: “Thanksgiving in 90 Minutes” featuring chef/influencer Ashton Keefe.

Select Results As we write this case study, the program is still in process. But brands benefit by this use of a singular theme, and then building a 360-degree communications campaign using a variety of different channels.

  • BensonLive Presents Media Webinar: For wine, epicurean writers, editors, freelancers, October 27, for 20 journalists.
  • TV Appearances: Early in campaign, client only wine featured on  FOX and Friends broadcast, featuring National Pasta Day. Viewers: 1+ million. Three additional TV appearances are booked for November.
  • Organic Social Media Posts: Amplify content (coverage, tips, etc.) to brand’s followers.
  • Social Media Advertising: Amplify content to brand’s core markets, lookalike audiences, etc. to broaden reach, frequency, followers.
  • PR Pitches: Pitch earned coverage of tips and suggestions co-developed by Benson and our chef spokesperson.

Influencer Marketing

Driving Local Wholesale, Retail Awareness

Client Hahn Family Wines, California

Goal Create a one-time, cost-effective local wine promotion in Los Angeles market.


  • Strategic Partnership: Partnered with Los Angeles-based lifestyle blogger, Kate Richards, “Drinking with Chickens”
  • Hosted Event: Hosted a “in real life” party with Kate and 10 additional influencers. Contracted social media posts, Instagram stories, and blogs with the influencer partner.
  • Paid Media: Purchased a digital media partnership with LAmag.com, which included a custom article, social media posts, and digital ads.

Select Results

  • 215k Instagram followers reached from IRL wine event with Drinking With Chickens and event attendees
  • Generated high-quality social media images for client
  • 400k impressions generated from media buy with LAMag.com

Additional: Read our blog post, “8 Tips for Selecting a Wine Influencer Partner.”

John Balletto

Balletto Vineyards

John Balletto
aerial view of vineyard

Good brand messaging and PR introduces Balletto Vineyards to Pinot Noir lovers

Client: Balletto Vineyards

Goal: Raise Profile of a Pinot Noir Specialist Balletto Vineyards, a respected and established grape grower in the Russian River Valley, California, retained Benson in 2015 to hone brand messaging around its emerging wine brand. The project evolved into a national PR campaign for the winery, wines and family owners.

Brand Messaging Plan Where do you start with wine marketing? A thorough brand messaging plan helped to align the whole team under one core message: a family-operated Pinot Noir specialist in Russian River Valley.

PR Actions

  • Constant story pitching has raised awareness of the family’s compelling story, a transition from row crop farmer to successful grape grower and winemaker (John Balletto, pictured)
  • Strategic press sampling of single-vineyard Pinot Noirs, and Russian River AVA wines in broader, 3-tier distribution leads to coverage used in sales
  • On-site and in-market press meetings around U.S.
  • Trade emails providing selling news for wholesale partners

Select Results 2016-2020 Each year, Benson has driven 8 million to 15 million earned media impressions for Balletto Vineyards

  • Food & Wine: RRV Pinot Noir named a “Bottle to Buy”
  • Wine Enthusiast: Rosé, 2016 Top 100 Wines List
  • Sunset Magazine: Brut Rosé named a “New Favorite”
Campari America

Campari Group

Campari America
Campari Group logo

Leveraging Social Media to support the trade

Client Campari Group

Goal  Build advocacy and buzz with U.S. mixologists, influencers, gatekeepers.

Strategy Starting in 2008, Benson worked with Campari America on company-level US PR and later added social media responsibilities to that role. In many cases we created social media programs that amplified the company’s supportive culture and mission. In this case, our strategy included:

  • Animate Campari Group’s tagline, “Making Spirited Connections”
  • Created content with influencer (Gastronomista) including stories and photos of prominent bartenders
  • Provide a platform for bartenders to discuss issues they care about–parenting, staying fit, etc.–and demonstrated Campari America’s support for the bartender community.

Results Campari America has one of the most engaged trade communities of any spirits company:

  • Rapid follower growth: Instagram (60k+), Twitter (11k+)
  • #Hashtag programs helped promote careers of mixologists
  • The agency has continued to work with Campari through 2021