August 22, 2007
Governor Stumps for State's Wines

Gov. Schwarzenegger, never camera shy, has signed on as pitchman for California's wine and culinary arts. The governor's latest role will team him with several unspecified California wine and culinary celebrities in a TV commercial to launch this winter to promote the state's wines and foods.

I'll be watching closely to make sure zinfandel gets its fair share of exposure. Remember, this is the same governor who last year vetoed a measure to designate zinfandel California's "historic wine."

At any rate, Robert "Bobby" Koch, president and CEO of the trade group Wine Institute, and Caroline Beteta, executive director of the California Travel & Touism Commission, announced the governor's signing during a luncheon Tuesday at the Sacramento branch of P.F. Chang's China Bistro. The luncheon and followup wine tasting was an early kick-off of California Wine Month, which actually is September, as proclaimed by the governor.

Wine Institute is putting more than $1 million into the campaign, prompted in part by surveys showing that wine and culinary activities have become significant motivations for people making travel plans. People keen on visiting wine regions and restaurants while at leisure tend to spend more money and travel more often than other vacationers, said Beteta. The overall thrust of the TV spot will be to share the stories of California's vintners, she added.

Even if the TV campaign doesn't inspire viewers to visit California it likely will benefit the state's wine trade by prompting them "to go down to the store and buy a bottle of California wine," noted Koch.

In the meantime, wine enthusiasts interested in wine events throughout the state generally and during California Wine Month specifically can visit a Wine Institute Web site set up specifically to promote activities.

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