Talley Vineyards

It’s cool to be in the target audience.

Despite decades living, working and vacationing in California, I’d never ventured to San Luis Obispo (SLO) or Pismo Beach. How I missed this gem of a wine region, I do not know. At first glance I was smitten. At first taste, I was converted.

Talley Vineyards is a 30+ year old, fourth generation family-owned winery on the San Luis Obispo coast. The vineyards are centered around a historically significant 19th century adobe house and its practices were deeply rooted in the family’s intimate knowledge of the land. The brand was built on the family’s agricultural heritage and the decades of community good-will earned from their support of local vineyard and farm workers.

Celebrated for world-class Pinot Noir and Chardonnay (named California’s Best Chardonnay in the 2002 Judgement of Paris 30th Anniversary), Talley Vineyards sits just four miles from the coast. Their Arroyo Grande and Edna Valley vineyards receive cool ocean breezes that provide perfectly even temperatures for slow-ripening Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Thanks to its proximity to the Pacific, Talley Vineyards is among the coolest places in the state to grow wine — literally. And figuratively: Combine the cool terroir and award-winning wines with the laid-back vibe of the SLO area and we were on to something very cool. Cool enough to entice new customers (like me!). Cool enough to become the lynchpin of their brand identity.

A marketing assessment revealed several places to punch up the winery’s efforts, beginning with a change in focus from wholesale distribution to the much more profitable direct-to-consumer (DTC) channel. Consumer research revealed that the wine was attractive, but relatively unknown in the state, leaving a lot of highly educated/highly engaged wine consumers on the table. Research also showed that the Talley Vineyards brand had enough legs to move beyond its humble agricultural roots and make hay out of its celebrity in the wine world.

We uncovered a new Talley Vineyards brand identity that, while preserving the past, projected a more forward-looking, confident, image: California Cool . They updated their logos, labels and identity system accordingly. They targeted more sophisticated and affluent wine consumers living in SF and LA, and renovated the tasting room offerings to accommodate them, adding elements such as private tastings with gourmet food pairings. Finally, the company built a robust new website and enhanced email and social marketing efforts to attract and retain this new upscale audience.

By focusing on the DTC channel, targeting new consumers and repositioning/redefining the brand, Talley Vineyards was well poised to absorb the myriad changes in customer behavior caused by Covid-19, which brought the wine wholesale business to a screeching halt. The newly positioned winery not only survived, it thrived. And the future looks bright.

Below: Before and after logos show the balance achieved between preserving the past and paving a bolder path forward.