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01.20.2005

What's In A Name? How About 20% in Sales Growth

As much as I dislike it (and even try and fight it here at Vinography) we human beings are creatures of impulse. Perhaps especially when it comes to wine, which to many people is an inscrutable, intimidating realm, especially if it involves anything French. That's why we buy wines based on the label, and apparently why most consumers tend to avoid tough-to-decipher French wines. Witness a small winery in Oregon formerly known as Chateau Benoit who after simply changing their name to Anne Amie Vineyards and Winery saw a 20% jump in sales.

Sigh. On good days I think that people might make the effort to figure out what they like. On bad days, I feel the looming shadow of E.j. Gallo....

Comments (12)

Audrey wrote:
01.20.05 at 11:50 AM

I visited that winery last year when they were in the middle of the name change. The signs on the road pointed to Anne Amie Vineyards, but the Yamhill County wine guidebook still said Chateau Benoit. Most of the bottles didn't have new labels yet.

I'm puzzled that the name change would be beneficial, for two reasons. I got the impression that they had a fair amount of name recognition already built up, and the new name is cutesy enough that I didn't think it sounded like a good place to stop until I matched it up with the review in the guidebook. I spent a little time talking to the woman working in the tasting room. She gave me the impression that she felt the new owner had bought the place as some kind of trophy to show off, and thus she wasn't too pleased with the changes. The article doesn't mention that Anne and Amie are the new owner's 20-something daughters.

I enjoyed their wine, though. I wish I'd kept notes on what we ended up buying.

Gail wrote:
01.21.05 at 4:21 PM

How interesting. I'm annoyed that I didn't know this about Anne Amie, as I am a wine retailer and recently tasted the wine and brought it into my shop (La Colina Vineyard '02 - fabulous stuff.) From my own experience I can say that you are dead on with labels. Lots of people (especially women) buy wine based upon 'cute' labels if the price is relatively low. And yes, most people are afraid of French wine, which is mostly a function of the label, but I think there must be something else at work too, because other European wines are labeled in a similar fashion and I've noticed that people don't seem to be quite as intimidated by them. What is with our phobia toward anything French??!!!

Alder wrote:
01.21.05 at 5:29 PM

Gail,

I'm not sure what it is about French on the label. Discounting the recent "patriotic" (or is it idiotic) banning of all things French from Washington, DC, I think mostly the aversion might have to do with 2 things:

1. People don't know how to pronounce the 'strange sounding' names and are embarassed about it, to the point that they're not willing to talk with a winery owner or wine shop owner about the wine.

2. People associate especially French wine with being very elite and in the realm of connoisseurs. That is to say, they think they can't really appreciate it or understand it as well as say, that easy drinking Merlot with the funny animal on the label.

Just a couple of thoughts. Glad their wine is good, anyhow.

Rick wrote:
01.21.05 at 7:00 PM

The name change came after a change from white to red's.

harry wrote:
01.21.05 at 8:54 PM

Idiotic maybe? But there are so many good wines being produced that we don't need to buy French as long as [offensive material edited out]. I enjoyed many bottles of Rhones for years but don't miss them in the least.

Gail wrote:
01.28.05 at 5:45 PM

Harry-
Politics aside, I understand your point about not having to buy French wine. It is true, there are plenty of wines out there, and if you wanted to avoid anything French you certainly could. I think it would be unfortunate, however, if a person chose not to drink anything French on principle. I assume you would want to apply that rationale toward all your purchases, and considering how deeply intermeshed we are in terms of trade it would indeed be a difficult thing to do. In any case, while I concur that you can certainly get along in life without French wine, I would never do such a thing. If I had to do without the Rhone or the Loire Valley I would survive, but there is really nothing that comes close to a Sancerre or Gigondas. Besides, most of the wine I buy comes from small, family-run wineries and they have nothing to do with the politics of the day.

Alder wrote:
01.29.05 at 6:45 PM

Gail, thanks for your comments. All excellent points.

joe wrote:
01.30.05 at 10:50 AM

I tend to avoid French wines - it seems every time I buy one, from $10 to $50, I seem to find a dud - even with help from a wine store person.

It is also easier to remember the names of the Ausie and American wines you have bought and liked as opposed to complicated French and Italian labels, all with irritating fonts and the same picture of the same chateaus on a hill.

For the French rememebring the labels aren't a problem because it is their language. There is nothing wrong with someone labeling a product in the language of the consumer. I'm surprised the French haven't made changes with export labelling as every other industry does. Would you buy a DVD player if the box was only in Cantonese?

Sean wrote:
04.14.05 at 11:39 AM

Just a note about Anne Amie. My understanding is that there was more than a mere name change at the Winery. A new owner, Dr. Robert Pamplim, bought the winery several years ago and actually changed the wine entirely. New vines are growing, and most of the grapes are now sourced from different (and better) vineyards. I believe there is also a new winemaker as well. In a nutshell: New owner; new wine, and, yes, a new label. Chateau Benoit remains as a second label (although I can't say I understand why).

Craig Camp wrote:
06.03.05 at 7:35 AM

I would suggest a fact-checker before making such comments as you are totally off-base. The world of Anne Amie has little to do with Chateau Benoit: the only thing that is the same is the address.

Chateau Benoit produced primarily mid-priced white wines aimed at the grocery and tourist market. Since the Benoit family sold the winery in 1999, we have changed everything from vineyards to equipment and now a majority of our production is red wines. Few of the vineyards that went into Chateau Benoit would qualify for the rigorous standards we demand. For example, we have reduced yields in our outstanding 25-year-old riesling vineyard to two tons an acre compared to the 4+ tons harvested by the Benoits. Winemaking has changed from the quantity and cost-cutting approach of Benoit's to state-of-the-art gravity-flow methods. The only driving force behind the wines of Anne Amie is our passion for quality.

It is our goal to make the finest wines in Oregon. This was never the goal at Chateau Benoit. Today, the Chateau Benoit label still exists, but only as a second label for wines that do not make the cut for Anne Amie.

Winemaker Scott Huffman and myself are committed to making Anne Amie a name synonymous with fine Pinot Noir and it is that dedication that has increased the sales of our wines. To write-off what has happened at Anne Amie over the last several years as a simple name change does not to justice the dedication of our entire team.

I would suggest you taste the wines for yourselves to understand what has truly happened at Anne Amie.

Craig Camp
Anne Amie Vineyards

Alder wrote:
06.03.05 at 9:21 AM

Craig,

Thanks very much for setting us all straight on what's happening over at Anne Amie. As I am a one man operation and not a professional journalist I tend to let the professional journalists do my fact checking for me. You may want to contact the Portland Business Journal, which is where I picked up this story, and make your demands for better fact checking known.

Best of luck in your goal of making the best wines in Oregon! I look forward to trying them someday.

zoe wrote:
10.14.05 at 3:24 AM

I was just at Anne Amie's tasting room where I was very impressed with the wines, especially the Viognier and the Club Select Pinot Noir.

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