Despite the controversies plaguing cycling on an international basis, the sport is delivering for at least one domestic sponsor that is looking to expand its involvement.

Trinchero Family Estates’ Sutter Home wine cites increased brand awareness and sales, improved relationships with distributors and incremental in-store display resulting from its two-year involvement in pro cycling. The brand has added new cycling ties in ’07 and is looking for additional partnerships.

Sutter Home has co-titled the Colavita Olive Oil/Sutter Home Wine men’s team since ’05. This year, it added co-title of Team Colavita’s women’s team and signed new ties to the Amgen Tour of California and the inaugural U.S. Open Cycling Championships in Virginia. The winery also has added a first-time cycling event to its longstanding cause relationship with City of Hope.

Over the past two years, the company generated “a significant increase in incremental sales” in markets where the men’s team competed, said Wendy Nyberg, Sutter Home’s senior director of marketing.

Nyberg also points to increased cross-promotional opportunities with Colavita USA LLC and other team sponsors as another reason for expanding its team deal.

In ’06, Sutter Home teamed with Colavita on an in-store promotion offering recipes featuring Colavita and paired with Sutter Home wines.

The promotion garnered support from Sutter Home’s distributors, who successfully sold the program into their retail customers, Nyberg said.

“We were really surprised at how many distributors are active cyclists, and how excited they were to work with us on promotions around events the team was competing in,” she said.

Sutter Home added the women’s team to better connect with female wine shoppers. “Our target consumer is female, so it was natural for us to look at women’s cycling, but we wanted to get familiar with the sport first and men’s cycling offers more visibility.”

Sutter Home is looking to go deeper with the sport to provide additional activation opportunities, Nyberg said. “We definitely want to get involved with cycling teams and races wherever we can.

“It gives us an opportunity to entertain some of our key retailers and distributors and gain in-store promotional platforms around which we can offer tickets to consumers.”

Cross-promotions And Cause Tie Highlight Leveraging Efforts
Sutter Home is committed to Team Colavita through ’08. In addition to partnering with the olive oil brand, Sutter Home was interested in building its relationship with Southern Progress Corp.’s Cooking Light magazine, from which the wine brand took over co-title of the women’s team. The publication moved to a new role this year as presenting sponsor of both teams.

“Cooking Light gives us added-value components that we can use to create a lifestyle activation program,” Nyberg said.

Sutter Home teamed with Cooking Light to promote Recipe to Ride, an online program the winery rolled out earlier this year that encourages women to take up cycling as a fitness program. The site offers training tips from Tina Pic–the women’s team’s top rider–recipes, and a blog written by Nyberg, who is training to participate in the new City of Hope Challenge 25-mile bike ride.

Sutter Home purchased two-page spreads at a significant discount in Cooking Light’s June, July and August issues. The ads contain training tips and information on upcoming races, along with recipes and wine pairing ideas.

Sutter Home also rolled out a sweepstakes on offering consumers a chance to win a trip for two to its Napa Valley winery, as well as a coaching session with the women’s team at its training camp. Sutter Home is using the sweeps to compile an email database to update consumers on new products and team news.

On top of that, Sutter Home is leveraging its cycling sponsorships to support its six-year-old partnership with City of Hope medical center, which specializes in cancer treatment and research. The brand’s Bike for Hope program donates $1 to the cause for every mile ridden by Pic, and another $1,000 for every race she wins.

Sutter Home also is running a sweeps offering the chance to win a pink bike modeled on the one ridden by Pic to promote Sutter Home’s support of breast cancer research.

The City of Hope Challenge will take place as part of the cause’s Walk for Hope to Cure Breast Cancer in Philadelphia this October. Walk for Hope also takes place in eight other markets.

Sutter Home, which was previously a national Walk for Hope sponsor, also supports City of Hope through the Sutter Home for Hope cause marketing program in which it donates $1–up to $100,000–for every bottle seal consumers mail to the company between August 1 and December 31.

Trinchero is the sixth largest U.S. wine producer, with annual domestic case sales of 10 million.