--by Sally O'Dowd. This is an update for my dear friends at Scratchpad Cellars to inform readers that the company's wines are now available on Amazon.

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world
and one of the most natural things of the world
that has been brought to the greatest perfection…”
–Ernest Hemingway

“Language is wine upon the lips.”
–Virginia Woolf

terravantbigFor those of you who likewise admire the beauty of a good wine, this post is for you.

You probably know Terravant wines but don’t even know it. For my part, I’m not sure who found whom first on Twitter, but it has become quite the budding relationship.

The story of Terravant, based in Buellton, California, is one of business evolution: Terravant for many years has focused on making wines for other brands, and it still does. But now it is making and marketing its own wines — like Scratchpad Cellars — and it’s getting industry recognition along the way. Scratchpad graces the cover of October’s Wines & Vines Magazine.

Terravant’s Scratchpad brand features a blank label and comes with a pencil, enabling those who behold the bottle to draw or say what is inspiring them. As we head into the holiday season, a Scratchpad wine makes a perfect gift because you can personalize your message and share your feelings right on the bottle.

This sketch-inspiring brand is a terrific topic for a blog on creativity.

Eric terravant NEW_resize[1]In my latest interview, Eric Guerra, Terravant’s SVP of marketing and sales, shows us how well-honed experience, creativity and passion  can drive innovation and a successful, social-only brand.

Sally: Terravant is like the James Bond of wines—no one knows who you are, but they benefit from what you do.

Eric: For years, we have been a winery exclusively making wines for other people. It’s why no one outside the wine industry has ever heard of us. We are the winery behind other companies’ brands, in fact, more than 450 of them.

Sally: My readers have probably enjoyed some of your wines without even knowing it.

Eric: Yes, we make private-label wines for Whole Foods, California Pizza Kitchen, companies selling wines to Neiman Marcus, and several other retailers.

Triangles_150_LG_YelSally: Hah! Then I know the Whole Foods one…

Eric: Custom production starts with the grapes, many of which come from the central coast of California, from Monterey County to Santa Barbara County. But we also have an outstanding selection of many high-quality vineyards and partners across California.

Sally: What happens next?

Eric: We meet with our clients to determine the characteristics they want in the wine, the taste, the aroma—whether it is light or full-bodied, dry or fruity, what price point they are looking to hit, the demographics of the consumer we’re targeting, etc. We then craft the wines.

But we do more than blend the wine. We create the entire brand, from designing the label to deciding how it will be marketed on the shelf. We are a one-stop shop for creating a fine private-label wine brand from grape to bottle.

Business Evolution: Fulfilling an Unmet Need

My sister Amy draws an homage to sea turtles
My sister Amy draws an homage to sea turtles

Sally: So then you decided to get really creative and set out to make a wine for yourselves, a wine that would become part of Terravant’s own Wines + Designs Portfolio.

Eric: I brainstormed the idea with Matt Valine, our creative director. I was sitting on my deck, and I started to think about the trinkets or chalk that people put on their glasses to mark them at parties and such. Matt expanded on the idea: He wanted to create a brand that would give other people the chance to design their own labels. Scratchpad was born.

Sally: How did you arrive at the notion that user-generated design and wine go together?

Eric: Wine itself is creative—there is always a new way to craft wine, a new flavor profile you can draw from the grapes. It pairs perfectly with art. Wine and art share something else in common: they both draw you in. When you hold a bottle, it becomes emotionally important to you. You don’t just pour it, you connect with it.

A Social-Only Brand

Toasting a Pompano Beach, Fla., sunset with Scratchpad
Toasting a Pompano Beach, Fla., sunset with Scratchpad

Sally: Scratchpad is a social-only brand. Does it hurt business not to have a website?

Eric: No, in fact, it’s really good business to focus on social sharing. The blank label encourages people to interact with the brand. When they share their designs on social channels, they get the chance to express themselves while building our visibility at the same time. And then they cherish the bottle because it has, in part, come from them.

Sally: So tell us about the characteristic of the Scratchpad wines!

Scratchpad's Facebook team said mom's sketch displayed love and happiness.
Scratchpad’s Facebook team said mom’s sketch displayed love and happiness.

Eric: We chose three popular varietals:

• a light and fruit-forward sauvignon blanc, perfect for a hot day
• a medium-bodied chardonnay that pairs well with food. It is not big and buttery, or oaky, which can kill almost everything else in it
• a pinot noir, very feminine with a lot of elegance and red fruit like strawberry and cherry popping through the nose. It’s a dry, serious fine wine, not earthy or mushroomy

Sally: Where can people buy Scratchpad and the other brands in Terravant’s Wines + Designs Portfolio?

Eric: Our wines are now available on Amazon, on the shelves of Target, at Beverages and More as a holiday special, at Goody Goody in Texas, on Amazon’s wine section later this month, and in most Safeway’s coming this Spring–and the list of stores is growing. We focused on over-delivering with quality while staying affordable, costing between $10 and $15 a bottle depending upon the varietal.

There you have it, wine people!  Get sketching and sharing, and remember to drink responsibly. Find Scratchpad on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

–Sally O’Dowd is founder and CEO of Sally On Media, a New York City-based integrated marketing, content marketing, and PR firm.

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