Wine Maker Kicks Off Second Year of Music Concerts

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Wine makers' advertising has traditionally tied the product to classical music, chamber orchestras and maybe even jazz. But Kendall-Jackson Vineyard Estates is
Kendall-Jackson is also sponsoring the backstage promotions for the Billboard Music Awards.

changing that as it kicks out the jams to focus on the young adult fans of Usher, Nelly and Britney Spears.

Music awards

As part of its 2005 music festival and concert program, Kendall-Jackson for the second year has sponsored backstage promotions for the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. The winery is also looking to sponsor more young-adult-targeted programs.

"We are trying to find more of these events," said George Rose, vice president for public relations, who oversees the program. Among those under consideration is the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, he said.

Kendall-Jackson in the mid-1980s created a new category of vintages with a line of mid-priced Chardonnay selling at about $10 a bottle. Now one of the top 10 U.S. wine companies with sales of 4 million cases a year, Kendall-Jackson sponsors over a half dozen music festivals and concerts during the year, including one at the Luther Burbank Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, Calif., which features comedy acts and contemporary music performances.

Wine-loving Millenniums

Kendall-Jackson's move comes at a time when the wine industry has seen an increase in wine consumption by young adults. Unlike Gen Xers (now in their 30s), who eschewed wine as their parents' drink, the so-called Millenniums -- the 70 million strong wave of baby boomers' offspring -- are inclined to take up wine drinking, according to a number of wine industry experts.

"Young adults are adopting wine at two times the rate of Gen Xers and are responsible for a lot of things going on in wine," said Vic Motto, chairman of Global Wine Partners in St. Helena, Calif. Mr. Motto said he has found that college students today drink more wine and also better quality wine. "They started higher up on the chain and they're drinking pretty good stuff."

John Gillespie, president of the Wine Market Council, who just a few years ago was concerned about the dearth of wine drinkers in America, said that "there is something about wine that is innately appealing to this generation."

Music a proven marketing tactic

Meanwhile, wine marketers' embrace of music is a proven tactic, with many sponsoring or hosting concerts. Jack Cakebread, president of Cakebread Cellars, has reached out to young adults at universities, appearing on campus to teach students about wine making, tasting and the business.

Hip-hop artists are particularly upfront with their love for sparkling wine and Champagne in song and video, particularly Louis Roederer's Christal. The pricey brand is often seen in the hands of rappers as they emerge from their limos.
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