This Wine Brand Wants Hardcore Bikers Drinking its Rosé

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Credit: Josh Cellars Wine

After a long day on the Black Hills Run on the back of a Harley at one of the most popular motorcycle rallies in the country, bikers historically favored a beer or a stiff drink.

Now, rosé wants its turn.

For the first time in nearly 80 years, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which draws half a million guests each year to the small South Dakota city, has a wine brand as a sponsor.

Josh Cellars will be hosting 10 tasting events over the 10-day rally, which began Aug. 4, to promote its new $14.99 rosé. It will also document the bikers' reactions on its Facebook and Instagram pages.

Josh Cellars parent Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits is working with North Carolina-based agency French West Vaughan to produce the videos and other content, but would not comment on the financial terms of the sponsorship. Some of the rally's other sponsors include Budweiser, Jack Daniel's and Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine.

Bikers may seem like an unlikely market for a drink most associated with seersucker and boat shoes. But Deutsch Chief Marketing Officer Renato Reyes said the wine industry has long known bikers are a good bet.

"We've always looked at motorcycle enthusiasts as a pretty affluent consumer — we've always known that they drink wine," Reyes said. He added that while in the past rosé had a girly stereotype, he believes that has faded in recent years as the wine type has exploded in popularity. Instead of bucking a stereotype, he said this type of campaign is about getting to where the premium wine drinkers are.

The makeup of Sturgis attendees has changed since it began, said Jerry Cole, director of Sturgis Rally & Events. He said the rally now sees doctors, bankers and lawyers wanting to live the biker lifestyle for 10 days.

"Our demographics have changed since those early years," noting that the the average salary today of Sturgis attendees is about $70,000.

It's also about making sipping a glass of wine as socially acceptable in the motorcycle world as bellying up to a Jack on the rocks.

"The rally has been mostly a beer and whiskey rally [historically], because hardcore bikers enjoy a good stiff drink now and then, and a lot of beer," Cole said.

"If they enjoy the wine at home, why not provide [it to] them and see if we can change their attitudes while they're away from home?"

The true test of rosé's success at Sturgis may be seeing whether anyone hits up the tattoo artist Josh Cellars commissioned for the rally, who will be inking a winged glass of wine onto any willing participant for free.

Credit: Josh Cellars Wine

Deutsch's Reyes is hopeful.

"You always have one adventurous person out there," he said.

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