The Wine Market Council, which represents about 120 grape growers, wine producers and importers, is working with the Chicago office of Bozell Worldwide, whose New York office created the National Fluid Milk Processors Education Program's well-known print ad campaign, to develop a generic wine marketing effort.
Testing of the effort, planned for two as-yet-undetermined cities, should begin next spring, said John Gillespie, president. Budget for the test is estimated at $500,000 to $2 million; spending on the actual ad effort is still under development.
"Our strategy is to change the reputation of wine as a beverage to be enjoyed on a more casual basis and not saved for only special occasions," Mr. Gillespie said.
WINE SURPLUS EXPECTED
The industry's interest in marketing is a result of an expected surplus of wine within the next few years. In contrast to the current tight wine supply, particularly for varietals, California's harvest this year is expected to set a record, he said.
Adding to future supply is a significant increase in production in South America, Europe and Australia.
"In the next two to five years, there will be a dramatic increase in wine in the U.S.," Mr. Gillespie said.
At the same time, adult per capita wine consumption has declined, from its 1982 peak of 2.58 gallons to 2.23 in 1996, about one case of wine-or one bottle per month.
The group is targeting the estimated 25 million American adults who are "marginal" consumers, indicating they like wine but drink it about once every few months.
Research indicates that gains in wine sales are due to an increase in consumption among regular wine drinkers, an already saturated target, said Mr. Gillespie.
In a related wine marketing move, Consorzio Cal-Italia, a group of 46 California wineries, this month moves to popularize Italian-style wines, which were eclipsed by French varieties following Prohibition. The effort will be launched on Columbus Day with a series of wine tastings and other promotions handled in-