Tinhorn Creek: branding with honesty

We’ve talked previously about the value of effective storytelling in defining and conveying a winery brand. Today I want to point you in the direction of an informative print media kit from Oliver-based Tinhorn Creek winery. You can find it here.

Tinhorn Creek’s media kit, which is a downloadable pdf file, is 33 pages of single-spaced text with a few illustrations thrown in. It covers a great deal of territory: local history, the wines, the visitor experience, sustainable viticulture practices, staff biographies, environmental management, a development timeline, community giving, and much more.

Those who hold to conventional wisdom about media kits would be appalled. Too long. Too much detail. Too few illustrations. Extraneous facts. Questionable inclusions.

I beg to differ. If you take the time to read the material, you come away with a clear sense of where this particular winery came from, how it grew, and where it’s going. The key word here is “particular”. This abundance of information defines Tinhorn as one-of-a-kind, which is precisely what every winery needs. Let’s face it, all regional wineries use the same handful of varietals to produce a single product (wine) for a highly competitive market. It is not enough to make a good Merlot; everyone makes a Merlot. You need to make a Merlot with a story.

That’s what this kit does so well, so convincingly. It creates a cohesive narrative that allows the reader to grasp the terroir and the science behind the Merlot, feel the heat as the vineyard workers re-vegetate the West Bench with threatened native species, hear the live music in the grassy amphitheatre at mid-summer, sympathize with winemaker Sandra Oldfield as she struggles to make more time for her young daughter while juggling a million winery duties and, finally, appreciate the people, the place, the skill and the caring that goes into every bottle of Sandra’s award-winning Merlot. Once you know the story, no other Merlot tastes the same.

Is the media kit perfect? No. It is, at times, repetitive, unbalanced, and poorly structured. It often reads as though it were assembled over several months or perhaps years. It has its share of typos and grammatical goofiness.

Yet none of that matters. Why? Because the kit is sincere. It mines the past to reveal the story of how Sandra and Kenn Oldfield learned the business of winemaking and became the success they are today. You can feel the pride in this ungainly narrative, yet it never sounds self-serving. Like all good stories, it draws you in and makes you want to read to the last page. And when you do, it all makes sense.

Tolstoy from Tinhorn, if you will.

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