Wine Sense: Pink Is the New Black

The wine industry aids the battle against breast cancer.

Wine brands like Schmitt Söhne’s Relax (pictured) join in efforts during the month of October to raise money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer.
Wine brands like Schmitt Söhne’s Relax (pictured) join in efforts during the month of October to raise money and awareness for the fight against breast cancer.

Every fall, wineries, marketers and retailers lend support to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month via fundraising efforts and promotional campaigns. The initiatives have not only helped raise awareness of the disease, but have resulted in significant monetary contributions to national and local research and educational groups.

Dozens of wine marketers, such as Winebow, Constellation Brands, Schmitt Söhne, Trinchero Family Estates and Fetzer Vineyards, are all supporting breast cancer research this month. During September and October, Winebow’s French wine label Fat Bastard is donating 25 cents of every bottle sold (up to $40,000) to national and regional groups committed to breast cancer research, education, treatment and patient support. According to marketing director Brad Mayer, 2014 is the 12th consecutive year the brand has supported the cause, with donations already exceeding $700,000 over the years.

Meanwhile, Relax wine marketer Schmitt Söhne will once again donate $1 every time a consumer uses the hashtag #Relax4TaTas to the Save the Ta-Tas Foundation, up to $25,000. “We saw this as an opportunity to leverage our success as a brand into something positive for our families and consumers,” says company president Christopher Klau of the effort, which began in 2012. The program is complemented with p-o-s and social media.

Wild Horse Winery & Vineyards, owned by Constellation Brands, will donate $2 from every bottle of Floyd Rose sold from its tasting room the weekend of October 17th to 19th to the Cancer Support Community in Paso Robles, California. The winery is also hosting the “Wild Horse Pink Classic” golf tournament in Atascadero, California, on October 19th to benefit the organization. In addition, Constellation Brands recently pledged $25,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Initiative at Wilmot Cancer Center in Rochester, New York.

Trinchero Family Estates’ Sutter Home label has been a long-time supporter of breast cancer awareness, with efforts dating back to 2001. This year, the brand is once again running its “Sutter Home for Hope” campaign, through which the winery will donate $1 to breast cancer research, treatment and education for every capsule that’s mailed in by consumers, up to $50,000. The campaign—started by the late Vera Trinchero Torres, a breast cancer survivor—was first created for Sutter Home White Zinfandel, but has since been expanded to all of the brand’s wine. Support includes extensive on- and off-premise materials and extends through December 31st. Vice president of marketing Wendy Nyberg says Sutter Home hopes total contributions will reach the $1 million mark by 2015.

At Fetzer Vineyards, the backbone campaign for its Little Black Dress wine brand has been its sponsorship of the Breast Cancer Foundation. Last year, the company launched a Pink Pinot Grigio for October. Fetzer also donates a portion of the brand’s wine sales to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, notes global marketing director Rodrigo Maturana.

OneHope wine promotes breast cancer awareness and education all year long, says chief marketing officer Brandon Hall. But in October, the label’s California Chardonnay ($18.99 a 750-ml. bottle) is highlighted “to support the fight against breast cancer,” Hall says, with half of its profits going to research and education. OneHope was created in partnership with winemaker Robert Mondavi Jr. and comprises a selection of California wines sourced from Napa Valley, Sonoma County and the Central Coast.

Off-premise retailers and on-premise operators are also supporting the cause. Cappy’s Warehouse Wine & Spirits in Valley Stream, New York, has been displaying wines that promote breast cancer awareness and research for the past few years, reports manager Marissa Viscomi-Cohen. In addition to the displays for wines like Relax Pink and OneHope, last year the store donated $1 from every bottle of the featured wines sold to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. At 1313 Main, a wine tasting lounge and restaurant in downtown Napa, all of the proceeds of special “In the Pink” breast cancer awareness programs in October are donated to support research at Queen of the Valley Medical Center. In 2013, programs included an all-female lineup of winemaker-led tastings and a pre-Halloween benefit gala. “The response has been phenomenal,” says owner Al Jabarin. He plans to continue the support this year.