Making a connection between its popular "pink" wine and the pink-ribbon symbol of breast cancer awareness, California's Sutter Home Winery has launched a major effort to encourage early detection of the disease and to raise funds for research and treatment.
In place of its usual corks, Napa Valley-based Sutter Home has sealed 3.2 million bottles of its White Zinfandel with bright-pink synthetic corks bearing the pink-ribbon symbol and the "Sutter Home for Hope" slogan, visible through a clear capsule. The wines also carry a neck label explaining how consumers can participate in the fight against breast cancer; customers can send in the label to receive an enameled pink-ribbon pin and information about how to do a breast self-exam.
While the wines were initially slated for distribution only during September and October, which is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Sutter Home has decided to expand its efforts year-round. Beginning in January 2002, the company will keep the pink corks in bottles year round, under their normal bottle capsules. An estimated total of 50 million corks will carry the message next year, while new back labels for the bottles will mention the company's support of breast cancer research.
"We're hoping that the corks will raise awareness and get even just one woman to go out and get a mammogram that perhaps she forgot," said Terry Wheatley, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Sutter Home, which is owned by Trinchero Family Estates.
The cause is a personal one for the winery, as both Wheatley and Trinchero co-owner Vera Trinchero Torres have recently undergone treatment for breast cancer.
"This is something that affected me last year. Shortly thereafter, Vera had surgery in January," said Wheatley, who was instrumental in convincing the Trinchero family to become involved in the cause. "Almost every person in the company said that in some way, shape or form this disease has touched them or their families."
The pink cork program grew out of Sutter Home's support for one of the United States' leading cancer research and treatment centers: City of Hope National Medical Center and Beckman Research Institute, based in Duarte, Calif., near Los Angeles.
The Trinchero family has made a personal donation to City of Hope, and Sutter Home has become a national sponsor for the center's 24 "Walk for Hope" events in various cities across the United State. The winery has also encouraged distributors, retailers and restaurants to donate or to send teams to participate in the fund-raising walks. Even the cork vendor who created the pink corks made a $25,000 contribution.
So far, the Trincheros and Sutter Home have donated around $300,000 combined, including the cost of promotional materials, according to Wheatley. Their goal is to raise $2 million this year.