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By Published on .

Marketer talk about capitalizing on the millennium bubbled in the years leading up to the big New Year's Eve, but few actually were able to pop a cork after the ball dropped in Times Square.

Gary Heck, president-chairman, Korbel Champagne Cellars, was one of them, with 1999 sales up 37% to 1.6 million cases from 1998. Not only that, it made its mark in the entire wine -- not just champagne -- category. For a time, Korbel was pulling ahead of still wine makers.

Mr. Heck took a chance five years ago when he planned to fill his cellars to capacity in anticipation of the grand celebration. But while the champagne was quiet in the dark, he was planning his marketing moves.

Korbel was among the first to take on a big marketing sponsorship, becoming the official sponsor of "Times Square 2000." One year before the countdown, Korbel launched a 40-city U.S. tour for its 5-foot-high champagne bottle.

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