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For Immediate Release

Wine Industry - "How Do You Do, Fellow Kids?"

Appealing to Millennials and Gen-Z

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Go to any wine industry gathering or seminar, and you'll see lots of consternation when it comes to selling wine to people aged 21-40ish. We seem absolutely befuddled. Chicken Little's "The Sky Is Falling" attitude permeates industry discourse - "White Claw" is a dirty word in these-here-parts.

I'm here to say that I think we're missing the forest through the trees - people in their 20s and 30s are drinking wine, period, something that wasn't true for the vast majority of the 20th and 21st century in the US.

The bottom line up front - the wine industry is trying to sell our father's Cabernet to us at unappealingly high prices and with language that doesn't resonate.

As a member of said 21-40ish demographic, here are some key points of differentiation we employ at Kiona:

No Flavor Listing - This industry trope is borrrrrring. When tasting a wine, people don't want to hear a list of flavors. Every winery does it, so if that's the case, how is it differentiating (or even engaging)? As far as we see it, there are precisely two ways to talk about wine - the "inside the bottle" stuff, and the "outside the bottle" stuff. For all intents and purposes, we do not talk about the "inside the bottle" stuff.

Limited Accolade Chest Thumping - When it comes to accolades, we receive plenty. But they're for the distributors. I doubt many (if any!) of our tasting room staff could tell you what wine/s got what numerical score. 21-40s don't care what some person in a cubicle thought about a wine, so why bother wasting bandwidth on it? Imagine a 26-year-old paying hundreds of dollars per year to get behind the paywall at a fancy wine-review website. It doesn't compute. A wine review is like the 11th-most-interesting thing you could say about a wine, and that's about where we value it in the wine information hierarchy.

Transparency - Our website, wine collateral, tasting room sheets, and social media emphasize full transparency. It's not uncommon for a winery to obfuscate basic product information, including critical details like vineyard sourcing. We make vineyard sourcing a literal activity when you visit - you get an 11x17" coded map that details each individual block used in every wine on the list across all five estate vineyards and 272+ Red Mountain acres under vine. Our "there are no secrets" approach to our vineyards, wines, winery, and procedures comes off as "genuine" and "refreshing," but to us, it just seems like a basic threshold premium wines should meet.

Kiona Tasting Map

It's like the tic-tac-toe activity sheet your kids get at Denny's, but for adults.

High Quality, Easily Accessible Information - This dovetails with transparency, but a distinction must be made. We'd much rather err on the side of providing too much information than not enough. Our customers are smart, engaged, and interested in learning more. So why deprive them, especially when they're so willing/able to pay attention? We also use label visuals at every opportunity - we convey sweetness impression, for example, with a graph. Take a look.

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Social Media Segmentation - We don't have a social media person or firm, just me. Our Instagram targets the 21-40ish audience, and our Facebook targets the 50-and-above crowd. It's uncommon for us to cross-post, as we're communicating different things to a different clientele. Our Instagram, in particular, may elicit some raised eyebrows from the wine cognoscenti, and that's exactly the point. We're trying to stand out in that space to a younger audience, who are decidedly anti-wine-cognoscenti.

- Look. We will always offer premium-priced products. But $85 Estate Bottled Vineyard-designated Cabernet luxed up in 100% new French oak is a wine for your Dad, priced for someone not paying $2,000-month for a studio flat. We proudly offer six wines that retail for <$20 per bottle, and eight more that fall under $35.

We also have a very customer-centric tasting fee waive structure - basically, if someone buys wine, they don't pay for their tasting. I worry that tasting room pricing has jumped the shark when it comes to pricing out younger visitors - at what point does it make more sense to throw some hard Topo Chicos in a cooler and hang out at the river instead of going wine tasting?

Minimize the Pinky-Out Stuff and Have Fun
- Bring your kids - we've got Duplos and coloring sheets. Print your own selfie on-site with our on-demand photo printer. You can make a reservation, but walk-ins are always welcome. We're open every day, noon - five, year-round (with just a handful of holiday closures sprinkled in). We want it to be EASY for you to visit. Also, our staff isn't on commission and doesn't get kickbacks for Member sign-ups. We're not salesy.

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"You spent HOW MUCH on a printer?!"

(Last but not least)

Product Preferences
- Red Mountain will always be a place to find big, powerful, dense wines. That's the style of wine that keeps the lights on here. But that doesn't mean we can't offer the occasional ying to the Red Mountain yang. Lower alcohol, less tannic, easy-to-enjoy, see-through wines appeal to younger buyers. Sustainability cred also matters - all 272 estate Red Mountain acres are certified by the new Sustainable WA program.

With that in mind, here are some Kiona products aimed at the younger crowd:

2022 Estate Bottled Red Mountain Concrete Semillon
($22, 12.2% ABV) - Small lot one-off bottling, with experimental winemaking, featuring a less-common cultivar grown in a prestigious region, carrying a sustainability certification. If modern science were to design a wine for a millennial from scratch, this bottle would emerge (steam billowing & lights flickering) from the particle accelerator. Here's the information card the visitors get when they taste it.

2022 Columbia Valley Old Vine Chenin Blanc
($19, 13.5% ABV) - I would call this a cult offering, but then I'd have to use the term twice when I describe Lemberger further down the post. For those willing to take one step off the beaten path, Chenin Blanc (especially old vine versions) offers an incredibly gratifying, easy-to-enjoy wine at a tremendous value.

2021 Estate Bottled Red Mountain Lemberger
($19, 14% ABV) - The label says that Lemberger offers a rewarding break from the mundane, and (since I wrote it), I have to agree wholeheartedly. We're the largest Lemberger producer in the western hemisphere, and we have great fun with it. 10 years ago, I'd hear, "OMG, what's it like having to sell Lemberger?" Now, I hear, "ZOMG, you get to sell Lemberger?" In 2023, being different is a feature, not a bug, and this wine has built-in SEO. Go ahead, throw a chill on it. Tasting Room card.

2021 Pinot Noir + Lemberger
($50, 13.7% ABV) - 21-40s are able (and willing!) to spend up if something really melts their face off, and this wine qualifies. It's a subversion of expectation, both in style and composition, for what you'd typically find on Red Mountain. We traded Cabernet Franc and Malbec in a ton-for-ton fruit swap for Pinot Noir with Björnson Estate in Oregon's Eola-Amith Hills AVA. It's a one-of-one bottling, especially considering the beautiful label featuring "I Will Soften Into" by Christina Mrozik. Tasting Room card.

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