Nimble Sonoma wine company zips into the fast lane

  • Roy Cecchetti of Cecchetti Wine Co. with his five brands of wine, left to right Exitus, Backhouse, redtree, Line 39, and Austerity wines in his Sonoma office. Scott Manchester / The Press Democrat

Roy Cecchetti sits at a wooden desk in a 200-square-foot shack, a former tack room in his backyard that serves as an office for his $15 million company.

It is perhaps a fitting home for his latest brand, "Austerity," which his company launched last month.

The modest Sonoma office space belies the success of Cecchetti Wine Co., which has grown at double-digit rates over the past five years and has, like Cecchetti's previous ventures, repeatedly been named among the fastest-growing companies in the country by Inc. Magazine.

The latest branding opportunity occurred to Cecchetti as he watched the morning news on CNBC following the Italian elections, which recently roiled stock markets worldwide as voters rejected austerity-minded politics.

"It's kind of a play on the times we're in," Cecchetti said. "All you hear about is this word 'austerity,' and it dawned on me that it would be a cool brand name."

His proposition with Austerity, like his other brands, is to deliver wine that tastes great but doesn't break the bank. The company took its message to Wall Street, attempting to deliver bottles of Austerity to the CEOs of major banks with a video crew in tow. They didn't make it very far into the banks, but they're hoping to try again in Washington, D.C., if they can figure out how to deal with those pesky rules regulating gifts to lawmakers.

Brand development is crucial for companies like Cecchetti Wine Co., which owns no winery, vineyards or tasting room. It's all about delivering the message, by catching a customer's eye on a crowded supermarket shelf or creating viral web campaigns spread by social media.

The company owns five brands, including Redtree and Line 39, which have both received "Impact Hot Prospect Awards" and were named "Rising Star Growth Brands" by Beverage Information Group. Cecchetti Wine Co. has been named among the hottest wineries in the state repeatedly by Gomberg, Fredrikson & Associates, a wine industry consulting firm based in Woodside.

In 2012, Cecchetti Wine Co. enjoyed its fifth consecutive year of double-digit growth, selling 340,000 cases of wine and achieving more than $15 million in revenues, Cecchetti said. This year he expects to sell 400,000 cases with $17 million in revenues. The operation is lean, with seven employees nationwide.

The company is an avid user of social media to promote its brands. Each has its own Facebook page, and the Line 39 page offers pairings ranging from creamy broccoli soup with cabernet sauvignon to M&M's with merlot.

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