Sonoma County wine officials unveil new ad campaign

"We are knotty. We are nice."

"We are Sonoma County."

So goes the tag line of a new ad campaign designed to promote Sonoma County's wine and tourism industries. The print ad campaign, with a knotted old zinfandel vine on the left and plush, trim vineyards on the right, will run nationally in magazines starting in November.

The Sonoma County Vintners, the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission and the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau worked together to develop the campaign, using two grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture totaling about $600,000 to fund the project.

Developing the brand campaign and logo cost about $60,000, and the remaining $540,000 will be used in a multi-year advertising and public relations campaign that includes travel to trade events and educational seminars around the country, said Tim Zahner, director of public relations and marketing for Sonoma County Tourism.

A lopsided stamp that reads "Sonoma County" will be the new logo of all three agencies, and will be available for wineries and potentially other companies to stamp on their products.

"It's reminiscent of the wood-burned stamps on fruit crates and that was a conscious decision," said Honore Comfort, executive director of Sonoma County Vintners. "We wanted to tie it into our agricultural heritage."

The campaign was designed to appeal to experience-seekers, people who value events and are genuine, independent and adventurous, traits identified through focus groups with dozens of wineries and surveys of hundreds of consumers.

"Those traits and that combination are unique to this place," Comfort said. "We're confident whether we're in jeans and a pickup truck or heading down to San Francisco and going to the opera."

The county Tourism Bureau has about one year left on its current ad campaign, "Do you speak Sonoma?" and will integrate the new logo into that campaign, Zahner said.

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