February 4, 2008
Speaking of Endorsements...

Grape growers and winemakers who gathered in Sacramento last week kicked off one day of speeches and workshops with an appreciative chuckle. Their amusement was triggered by the debut of a 30-second commercial that is to start appearing today on cable TV networks. The spot touts California as the ideal destination for visitors who like wine tasting and eating out to play a significant role in their travels.

Toward that end, the commercial calls upon several culinary and winemaking celebrities - restaurateur Pat Kuleto, chef Guy Fieri, winemakers Kathy Joseph, Jill Davis and Paul Draper, among others - to make a series of rapid-fire plugs about the joys to be found in California wines and foods.

Developed by the California Wine Institute and the California Travel and Tourism Commission, the spot isn't likely to be seen much in California itself because Californians already are familiar with the wines and foods the state has to offer, reason the sponsors. However, MeringCarson, the promotional agency responsible for pulling together the marketing campaign, has made this clip available for local residents to see what amused last week's conventioners.
For the kicker, however, stay tuned until the very end of the spot, when Maria Shriver and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger make a cameo appearance that has nothing to do with Barack Obama and John McCain.

The commercial, incidentally, is just one segment of a broader effort to promote California's wine and food culture. Another is "The Land of Wine and Food" Web site, where additional videos, an interactive guide to California wine regions and the like is available.

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