While everyone knows this product as "Woodbridge" it is now apparently being promoted as "The Woodbridge" on their website (www.woodbridgewines.com) which is everything you would expect from Constellation or whatever conglomerate now owns it. And why not make it extra special by adding "With every glass of Woodbridge, life becomes a little richer." Yeah, right.
Gallo wrote the book on this kind of wine advertising back in the 1960's with images of beautiful young professionals enjoying each other's company while swirling their wine stems. Give credit to the ad men. They sure can pick attractive models. In the current Woodbridge case all are dressed casually (jeans/khakis, plaid shirts, sweaters, neck scarfs) with a lot of greenery in the background and everyone is oh so smilingly relaxed. Updating the old Gallo model which then targeted caucasian yuppies, different ages and races are now imaged for their current audience to admire.
Woodbridge is a place, by the way, a town just northwest of Lodi. Robert Mondavi, who grew up in Lodi, built his Woodbridge winery there in 1979. Lodi at the time was considered to be jug wine (Cribari?) country at the northern most quadrant of the Central Valley. Just like in Europe though, when economics dictates that a new "fine wine" region needs to be declared, we find a way to elevate places like Lodi to fit our needs. In fairness, Bedrock, Turley, and other prominant wine companies source Zinfandel, Viognier, and Chenin Blanc juice from Lodi so there is quality wine being made there too.
So why am I knocking this product? I'm not. I'm just knocking the advertising. Including the Lodi fine wine appellation. Thirty-five years ago when I got into this business, the Mondavi name was marketed as a "premium" wine. The basic level Gallo, Inglenook, and other mediocrities sold for under $5/btl at the time. Now Woodbridge is here in the store and priced at $60/cs and while the price is down there the quality is probably more comparable to those Mondavi workhorse wines of thirty-five years ago. It's just another example of how progress in wine making technology and international competition have raised the quality bar for the American wine lover.
Please join us this Thursday, the 31st of August between 5 and 7pm, when David Rimmer presents new Italian estate wines at our weekly tasting. Three of these wines are from Piedmont, the finest wine production region of Italy, and one will be a reserve quality Super-Tuscan.