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Benson Expands PR, Digital Team

We are proud to add two professionals to our marketing team.

Kara Prior joined Benson in early 2022 to bolster the agency’s network of press contacts and strategic messaging. Kara’s experience spans consumer brands including Espolon Tequila, lulelemon, and Lime Scooters, among many others, and agency experience ranging from Sunshine Sachs to independent consulting. Based in Los Angeles, Kara has a B.A. in Political Science from University of Southern California.

Nicole Dickerson brings content marketing, social media, blogging, and digital marketing skills to Benson — a growing area for the agency. Nikki has been the copy writer behind a luxury wine and food tourism company, wine clubs, and her own blog, among other websites and channels. At Benson, Nikki focuses on copy writing and creative digital marketing campaigns for the agency’s clients. Nikki has a B.Sc. degree in marketing communications from San Diego State University.

Both positions are new for the agency.

 

Rathbone Family Partners with Benson

For many reasons, Americans tend to stereotype wines from Australia.

We hope to help change that by showcasing the quality and diversity of Aussie wines in our work with Wine Australia, as well as with our newest client, Australia’s Rathbone Wine Group.

The family-owned and managed company has tapped Benson to support distribution and sales growth in the U.S. for its three brands, exemplars of cool climate Pinot Noir (Yering Station), cool climate Shiraz (Mount Langi Ghiran), and Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon (Xanadu).

Our campaign combines digital advertising, promotion, and media coverage that support on and off premise accounts.

Here’s a summary of each Rathbone Wine Group brand:

  • Yering Station. With vines first planted in 1838, Yering Station is proudly renowned as Victoria’s first vineyard. A  jewel of the Yarra Valley, Yering Station produces world-class cool climate Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Mount Langi Ghiran. Established in 1969, the winery is home to some of Australia’s most iconic cool climate Shiraz. Mount Langi Ghiran – translated as home of the yellow tailed black cockatoo – is set in a quintessentially Australian backdrop of the Grampians region of Victoria (pictured above).
  • XANADU. Tucked away in Australia’s southwest corner, Margaret River, Xanadu is one of the country’s most acclaimed wineries, a true reflection of its idyllic setting and poetic namesake.
Nadea Mina

Mina Joins Benson PR Team

To bolster our PR team and services, Nadea Mina joined Benson late last year in the role of Vice President.

Nadea brings a wide range of experience promoting wine and spirits — as well as CPG brands — to Benson’s PR and digital services.  

Most recently, Nadea was a V.P. at Rubenstein Communications where she handled a diverse roster of clients for national wellness, CPG, and hospitality brands. Her team managed clients included Eataly, Tate’s Bake Shop, The Russian Tea Room, and Crunch Franchise.

Prior to that she worked at Sunshine Sachs agency and Sopexa on global brands including The Family Coppola Wines, Great Women Spirits, Monkey 47, Loire Valley Wines, Aveniu Brands, Emilio Moro Wines, Rias Baixas Wines, Wines of France, and more.  

Based in New York, Nadea graduated from California Polytechnic State University with a B.S. in Journalism with Minors in Spanish and Ethnic Studies. 

Our Predictions for 2022

As we look ahead to 2022, here are a few of the trends and predictions we are keeping our eyes on. We’d love to hear your thoughts or connect you with any of our client spokespeople to talk in further detail.  

  • Climate Change/Sustainability – These two words are very broad terms, encompassing a lot of different things, but for sure some aspect will be on everyone’s minds in 2022; whether it is reducing packaging weight, making changes in the vineyards, or supporting outside initiatives. 
    • Barton & Guestier can talk with you about the ways in which they are ramping up their Corporate Responsibility Initiatives.  
    • Riboli Family Wines and Hahn Family Wines can tell you about enhancing sustainability in their vineyards and practices.  
    • The winemakers at Graham Beck in South Africa and Biltmore Winery in North Carolina can speak to experiments with new varieties to better withstand climate changes. 
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity – End consumers will continue to gravitate towards trailblazing themes/people/brands that authentically put women and minorities at the forefront.  
  • The Espresso Martini Craze – Surging back into popularity, this drink quickly became a bit of a pain for bar staff. While we anticipate people will still seek out this drink, we predict that mixologists will find new ways of making them and in the process perhaps unleash themselves from the espresso machine. Our friends at St. George Spirits offer their NOLA Coffee Liqueur as a key starting point.  
  • No/Low Alcohol Trend – Health and wellness driven choices like this will continue and Veuve du Vernay debuted its Sparkling Alcohol Removed wine earlier this year. 
  • Champagne Alternatives – While the greater wine industry is expected to suffer a decline this year, the sparkling wine segment will see its 13th consecutive year of gain. We see this continuing in 2022 with consumers looking for great quality for the price. The leading Cap Classique producer in the US market, Graham Beck, definitely has something to say about that!  
  • Seltzer Alternatives — Sales of hard seltzers have finally begun to decline, the question is – what will step in to take some of this market share? Lower alcohol, wine-based RTDs may see their moment.   
  • Integrated Marketing – Creating brand “share of attention” will be increasingly challenging, requiring more brands to fully integrate sales and marketing activations. That is, get ready for fewer, but bigger, promotions. 
  • Democratization of Wine – Yes, trading up is here to stay. But so are the basics: affordable, delicious, widely available wines are never off-trend. WX Brands’ Bread & Butter wines, one of the fastest growing brands, will continue to not “overthink it.”  
  • Logistical Issues – Supply chain issues will linger and continue to cause headaches in 2022. Brands will be challenged to find creative solutions, potentially in the form of more domestic suppliers. 
  • Expanded DTC Shipping – The push to continue expanding and streamlining legal winery DTC shipping will take the Free the Grapes! campaign to wine lovers in Utah, Mississippi, and Delaware, the only three states with bans.  
  • Craft Spirits is Turning 40 – Founded in 1982 and serving as a vanguard of the modern craft spirits movement, St. George Spirits will celebrate past milestones (Absinthe anyone?) and prognosticate on the next 40 years.  
  • Terroir Whiskey? – New “bottled in bond” releases reflect the where and when of whiskey distilling, and Redwood Empire Whiskey will launch a fall BiB from the 2017 “vintage.”   

Riboli Family Wines Taps Benson

We are excited to announce an expanded PR and digital marketing engagement with Riboli Family Wines, focusing especially on the company’s Riboli Estates Group of brands.

The PR campaign includes consumer and trade communications and media pitching around the REG division — including San Simeon, Maddalena, and Highlands 41, among others — as well as the broader company, Riboli Family Wines, which includes the popular Stella Rosa brand. Benson’s work with the family owned and managed company first started in 2018 with the completion of brand messaging projects for the company’s REG portfolio.

More on Riboli Family Wines

Riboli Family Wines, a family-owned company since 1917, celebrates over a century crafting award-winning wines. Wine Enthusiasts’ 2018 American Winery of the Year, Riboli Family Wines includes the Riboli Estate Group division – a portfolio of estate-based brands sourced from the family’s 1,300 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards in Paso Robles, Monterey, and Napa Valley. With a natural affinity for creativity and innovation, the third and fourth generations of the Riboli family continue to lead the industry and push the boundaries of winemaking and the wine drinking experience.  

San Simeon

Rugged, refined and respected, San Simeon wines are driven by terroir – shaped by California’s unique coastal soils and the cooling influence of the Pacific Ocean. The fog and cool air from the sea bring a vital freshness to the wines, which are crafted with 100% estate-grown fruit from the Riboli family’s certified sustainable vineyards in Monterey and Paso Robles. San Simeon’s portfolio of premium wines includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache Rosé, Viognier,  Syrah, Petite Sirah, Merlot, as well as a more premium tier that includes a Bordeaux-style blend named Stormwatch, and a Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon from select vineyard blocks

Maddalena

Maddalena Wines is the namesake of Maddalena Riboli, the family matriarch, whose bold vision and pioneering spirit have inspired the family’s innovation for more than eight decades. Like Maddalena herself, these wines make their mark with a full range of white, red, and rosé offerings from Monterey and Paso Robles. Proudly 100% estate-grown and sustainably made from vineyard to bottle, Maddalena Wines is also a stalwart supporter of Dress for Success – West, a worldwide non-profit that empowers women to achieve economic independence.  

Highlands 41

Highlands 41 represents the thrill of adventure and the road less traveled. Historic Highway 41, which connects the Pacific Ocean and Yosemite, carves through an ancient seabed that is now the Riboli family’s Creston Highlands Vineyard – a limestone-rich site 1,300 feet above modern-day sea level. Crafted for freshness and purity with minimal oak, these dry, estate-grown wines are an invitation to adventure, exploring the dramatic natural settings that frame our outlook and shape our vineyards.

 

Wine Australia Taps Benson

Benson is excited to announce a U.S. media outreach campaign for new client, Wine Australia.

The wine PR campaign includes communications and media pitching around key messaging for Australian wines, including the creativity and diversity of the Australian scene, elevating the awareness of premium Australian wine in the U.S., and promoting Australian Wine CONNECT.

Australian Wine CONNECT is a dynamic, always-on, virtual platform bringing the global wine community together to build new connections with hundreds of Australian wineries for powerful commercial outcomes. CONNECT is free-to-use for all wine trade wishing to extend their knowledge of, and business reach with Australia. The platform offers business-to-business matching services for retailers, importers, and the on-trade across the globe.

More on Wine Australia
Wine Australia supports a competitive wine sector by investing in research, development, and adoption (RD&A), growing domestic and international markets, and protecting the reputation of Australian wine.
Wine Australia is an Australian Commonwealth Government statutory authority, established under the Wine Australia Act 2013, and funded by grape growers and winemakers through levies and user-pays charges and the Australian Government, which provides matching funding for RD&A investments.
https://www.wineaustralia.com/

Benson on Meininger’s 2021 “Power List”

Last month we were proud to be included in The Top PR Companies for Alcohol Beverage Brands by Beverage Trade Network for “…stellar work that has attracted the right clients.” (We agree!)

This month, we received a similar accolade from Europe’s Meininger’s Wine Business International, making their top 10 Power List of U.S. wine and spirits agencies. As author Roger Voss pointed out, “Nowadays, there is no business without good marketing.”

Of course, we would be expected to agree. But we interpret Roger’s quotation as a challenge to continue innovating how we communicate — with clarity, style and integrity — what is truly fascinating about the people and products we represent.

Ok, back to work!

Barton & Guestier

Benson Adds Barton & Guestier, Veuve du Vernay to Roster

Benson is proud to add two new brands to its client roster to begin the new year: Barton & Guestier, and Veuve du Vernay. The campaign includes consumer and trade press coverage and digital marketing support services.

Barton & Guestier: Reviewed by Thomas Jefferson!

Founded in Bordeaux in 1725 by the Irishman Thomas Barton, Barton & Guestier is the oldest wine house in Bordeaux. The brand  has developed a premium brand strategy based on AOC and varietal wines from Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Rhône Valley, Languedoc, Provence and Gascony.

With almost three centuries of experience, B&G combines the authenticity of the appellations with the consistency of quality and the typicity of each vintage.

This month, Barton & Guestier releases the newest vintage of their Côtes de Provence rosé wine, Tourmaline, to the U.S. market. Made by Véronique Florentin, newly appointed head of winemaking of Provençal wines for Barton & Guestier, the 2020 Tourmaline is a true-to-type Provence wine showcasing the authenticity of the appellation and its world-renowned style.

Fun fact: Barton & Guestier was the first wine brand imported to the U.S. and was recommended by President Jefferson.

Veuve du Vernay

Veuve du Vernay

Veuve du Vernay: Vive la Vie!

Veuve du Vernay is the leading French sparkling wine brand in the U.S., channeling classic Parisian lifestyle and joie de vivre.

Veuve du Vernay captures both the traditional and the modern. Whether serving the elegant Brut or the flirty Ice Rosé, these wines elevate all occasions.

Fun fact: Veuve du Vernay was founded by Robert Charmat, son of the scientist who patented the Charmat Method of producing sparkling wines. Robert named his wines for a widow in Vernay who helped his father during his early winemaking days. (Veuve in French means widow.)

Today, Veuve du Vernay is produced by Patriarche and made by winemaker Maryline Gianna. Founded in 1780 in Beaune, the heart of Burgundy, Patriarche is a leading wine producer in France with two areas of focus: Burgundy appellation wines and fine sparkling wines.

Black Lives Matter

Like many of you, I am appalled by what we’ve seen lately. Systematic police brutality against Black Americans. The militarization of our police forces. Institutionalized racism and injustice against people of color that COVID has exposed in healthcare, education, etc.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. (I have vivid memories of the scary, painful days following the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles, 1992).

Still, I am optimistic. I am optimistic that peaceful protests and an impending election could be catalysts for positive change. And I’m inspired by our team at Benson. It takes enormous resilience and mental fortitude to counsel clients during times like these.

As we search for our own voices on these issues, on what concrete steps we can take, I wanted to at least start by sharing some resources we and our industry partners should consider.

Of course, this list is not complete or exhaustive. But that’s not the point. The point is to start a process. At Benson we are working out plans for potential partnerships and resources aimed at supporting the causes we support.  

Community 
  • Support changes in policing in the cities you do business. Gather fellow business owners together and write letters to your Mayor, city council, and other decision makers.  
  • Partner and support Black-owned purveyors and businesses in your community. 
  • Highlight the businesses on your social media pages with links; feature in your content streams. 
  • Share links and information highlighting books, movies, articles that audience can read to learn about racism in US. 
Industry
  • Support organizations that extend wine education opportunities to people of color.  
  • Support Black somms, influencers, winemakers, distillers and associations. Feature these on your social channel, advertisements, in programs, wine dinners. 
  • Include diversity in photo shoots for your brand. 
  • Share links of national organizations to support.  
  • Host events that feature Black wine professionals in high-visibility roles. 
  • Share links and information highlighting books, movies, articles created by Black wine professionals.  
Company 

Organizations to Support  

George Floyd Memorial Fund: This memorial fund is established to cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist Floyd’s family. Donate here. 

Minnesota Freedom Fund: Combats the harms of incarceration by paying bail for low-income individuals who cannot. The Minnesota Freedom Fund has raised $20m and is asking that future donations be routed to Black Visions Collective and Reclaim The Block. Donate here.  

Black Visions Collective: Aims to create the conditions for long term success and transformation for all Black people. They believe in a future where all Black people have autonomy and where safety is community-led. Donate here. 

Reclaim The Block: Organizes Minneapolis community and city council members to move money from the police department into other areas of the city’s budget that truly promote community health and safety. Donate here. 

National Bail Out: Black-led and Black-centered collective of abolitionist organizers, lawyers and activists building a community-based movement to support and end systems of pretrial detention and ultimately mass incarceration. Donate here. 

Black Lives Matter: Movement and ongoing fight to end state-sanctioned violence, liberate Black people, and end white supremacy. Donate here.  

Bail Project: National nonprofit organization that pays bail for people in need, reuniting families and restoring the presumption of innocence.Their goal is to secure freedom for as many people as possible and fuel momentum for equal justice. Donate here. 

National Bail Fund Network: Made up of over sixty community bail and bond funds across the country. They regularly update their listing of community bail funds that are freeing people by paying bail/bond and are also fighting to abolish the money bail system and pretrial detention. Donate here. 

Baileyana Portfolio Joins Benson

Benson’s PR engagement with WX Brands, a top 20 U.S. wine company, has expanded to include the 100,000+ case portfolio of wines from the Niven family, widely considered as the pioneers of the Edna Valley AVA. In January, WX Brands announced the purchase of the portfolio, including True Myth, Tangent, Baileyana, and Zocker.

These additional wineries join Benson’s national PR campaign for current client, WX Brands: Bread & Butter Wines, the Jamieson Ranch Vineyards portfolio (Double Lariat, Reata, Silver Spur, Whiplash and Light Horse), Chronic Cellars, Our Daily Wines, Jelly Jar, and Reckless Love Wines.

From the Acquisition Press Release

“The Niven family has farmed in Edna Valley for more than 40 years. Their understanding and love of the region is reflected in the wines they produce,” said WX Brands President and CEO Peter Byck. “With their quality, regional focus, and price segments, this collection of consumer and trade favorites fits perfectly into our existing portfolio of nationally distributed wines. WX Brands is proud to carry on the Niven legacy.”

The Niven family developed a diverse portfolio of wine that focused on exploring the endless potential of Edna Valley and the Central Coast and in the process established the region as a credible and highly-sought-after source for cool-climate grape varieties.

  • Baileyana was founded more than 30 years ago to reflect the best of cool climate varietals. Refined, rich, and balanced, Baileyana wines exhibit the best of Edna Valley’s unique climates. (Price range: $25-50)
  • True Myth takes advantage of the rich and fertile soils of California’s Central Coast. The wines embrace the best of San Luis Obispo County – Chardonnay from the cool ocean influenced Edna Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon from the rugged terrain of Paso Robles. (Price range: $18-55)
  • Tangent wines explore cool climate, alternative white wines from Edna Valley, the coolest AVA in California. The focus is on fresh, easy-drinking white wines that are extremely food friendly. (Price range: $17-32)
  • Zocker means ‘gambler’ in German. The Niven family took a gamble that Edna Valley could produce Grüner Veltliner and the result is a food-friendly wine worthy of a gamble. (Price: $20)