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2013 Sunset wine competition only in its second year, but you can’t deny its powerful PR potential

Posted in Events, Magazines, Media Relations, Public Relations, Wineries

If you’re a Washington winemaker and you’re planning to enter the 2013 Sunset International Wine Competition, time is ticking. Entries close March 8, which means you have just less than 30 days to submit your entries.

There are dozens, if not hundreds of wine competitions to choose from and some are certainly older, established and more prestigious. But from a public relations standpoint, I doubt any wine competition can match the horsepower of this one, just based on demographics and reach of the magazine. Consider:

  • Sunset is one of West’s dominant media brands – 4.6 million readers, 1.1 million online visitors per month and more than 30,000 event attendees annually.
  • We drink a lot of wine out here in the West – more than 60 million glasses per week, and 10 million of those are consumed by Sunset readers. The magazine’s stats department determined that Sunset readers are 106 percent above average for being heavy consumers of wine.
  • We also buy a lot of wine. Westerners are 35 percent above the average affluent adult for spending $3,000 or more on wine in the past year.
  • Nearly all of Sunset’s subscribers are wine drinkers (96 percent), but perhaps most importantly those readers are more than 80 percent above average for influencing consumers’ buying decisions about wine.

In short, not only do Sunset subscribers buy and drink a lot of wine, but they are super influential in how other people think about and ultimately purchase wine. The numbers make a compelling case to enter this contest, and you can read more about them here.

This is only the contest’s second year, but Sunset’s wine editor Sara Schneider is enthusiastic about its trajectory.

The nature of wine competitions in general tends to encourage the more mass-produced wines to enter,” she told me last week. “And our lineup the first year out did include a quorum from the big wine companies in the West. But it also included a genuinely exciting cross-section of small-production, artisan wines from talented winemakers who have their own hands on the product from first to last.”

Schneider has corralled a who’s who of industry glitterati as judges, and she believes that is another element that makes this contest special.

… a badge of honor from Sunset will, by the very nature of its reputation and brand, carry much more clout with your consumers and will be much more likely to influence their opinions and buying decisions …

“The integrity of our competition is really fueled by our judges,” she said. “The caliber of wine industry pros that got excited about our program even as we were developing our plans, and committed two days to come to Menlo Park to judge for us, was truly heart-warming. And most are coming back this year. They believe in Sunset, and in the value of tasting and evaluating wines blind, for results that wineries can use.”

“Results that wineries can use” strikes me as a key phrase here. It’s one thing to hang a plaque in the tasting room from a competition in Indianapolis, for example. But a similar badge of honor from Sunset will, by the very nature of its reputation and brand, carry much more clout with your consumers and will be much more likely to influence their opinions and buying decisions, IMHO.

Finally, Schneider says the company is committed to increasing the events and promotions surrounding the competition, not the least of which is promoting the database of winners at Sunset-branded events and through the magazine and web site. Last year’s list is here, and it’s great to see the representation from Washington wine.

As winemakers ramp up their marketing efforts during this shoulder season, this seems to be one competition that definitely should be in the marketing budget.