A Conversation About Public Relations in the Oregon Wine Industry

Located in the heart of the vast Oregon wine country, Saffron Fields is an up-and-coming boutique winery. Their wines have been featured in publications such as Portland Monthly and The Seattle Times, making them one of Oregon’s most influential vineyards.

Saffron Field’s grounds in spring. (Image courtesy of Kathy Kennedy)

Kathy Kennedy is a tasting room employee and event staff member at Saffron Fields. I sat down with her to learn about how the winery has made a name for themselves and their products in Oregon’s competitive wine market.

Kathy Kennedy, Saffron Fields Vineyard

Are there certain ways that you have to represent the company as an employee?

You want to be positive. Love the wine, the people you work with, and be able to project that to customers. You need to be familiar with what makes each vintage different and be able to describe that to customers, especially if they are new to wine tasting.

Who is involved in promotional and marketing decisions?

That is the owner and the manager.

Do you get to weigh in at all as an employee?

Yes and no. We have staff meetings and can certainly state an opinion.

What events does the vineyard throw for their customers? Are they promotional?

We throw parties three times a year for our wine club members to pick-up their wine bottles. They can taste the wines they are picking up with some nice food as well. We are also doing a blending seminar and some other classes this year. Our biggest event is the 3rd of July fireworks show and the Anniversary party in September.

Where did Saffron Fields’ name come from?

Our owner is from India and the color the vines turn in the fall reminded him of the saffron fields from his childhood.

What does the logo mean and how was it developed? Where is it used?

I’m not sure. The logo is used on all promotional literature, clothing, and wine labels.

Saffron Fields has a large collection of art on display in their space. Does this affect your customer base or customer interest? Is it actively promoted?

Oh yes. We have customers who come for the art and sometimes the wine is secondary.

I think it’s promoted in some magazines like Dwell, Grey and Oregon Wine Press, but I’m not sure if it’s done actively. The owners are members of the Portland Art Museum, so there are events with the museum. There is also information about the art on the website, but the website isn’t kept up to date.  As employees, we are expected to know the art stories and tell customers. We are also expected to know and tell the vineyard’s story to customers.

How do you interact with others in the wine industry? Are there insider promotions?

Every Thursday morning, there is an industry tasting at a new tasting room or winery. This is to meet new industry folks, taste wines, become familiar with the product, and to be able to refer customers to other places. Most wineries offer industry discounts of 20 or 30 percent.

Do many vineyards have a large presence on social media? Does Saffron Fields?

Yes, especially the larger wineries. One of our staff members was recently put in charge of our social media, so we’re working on our presence.

How does the Vineyard deal with news coverage? Do they actively seek it?

World-renowned wine country photographer Andrea Johnson does a lot of our press. If Saffron Fields got news coverage, they wouldn’t turn it down, but I don’t know if they actively seek it.

To learn more about Oregon wine promotion, visit the Oregon Wine Boards’s marketing webpage.

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