What’s in a Name?

It’s not just me here when it comes to such decisions;  there are winemaking consultants, and three wonderful, smart, incredibly patient investor families who support this mission, who all need to like the name.  And it needs to be available…

And the “marketing professionals.”  I’ve been through three marketing partners:  the first didn’t want to sell right-bank blends (she considered it unmarketable “other red”), the second failed to find the time she committed to, and was furious we didn’t choose a name in the two hours she allocated to a naming exercise, and the third received a full-time job offer nine days after he started…  Little other than criticism from that group.

Criticism, without putting up your own ideas, should be refrained from at all times, right?

But they all did hammer on me:  1) easy to spell, 2) easy to remember, and 3) thought-provoking and related to the brand.  I’m not hiring any more marketing advisors, by the way, which is why the price per bottle dropped $10 from where we planned it!

I wanted to be BOURRIQUOT ESTATE.  A one-horse brand.  We use the same fruit that once built the now-liquidated Havens blend called Bourriquot and I own the trademark rights to the name.  But the marketing pros said Bourriquot doesn’t pass the first two tests.  Can’t pronounce it; can’t spell it.  Can’t spell it = can’t google it.  But I just love the word.  Perhaps it reminds me of Quintessa – a long, beautiful, high scrabble-scoring word with a great Q.  One day soon, a little homage to the humble French burro may come … a special bottling, a “second-label” perhaps, for those who read this blog.

We gallop through ideas, filling a shared ‘google doc’ with dozens of names that conjured up a sense of “the other,” nutty burro/equine themes, “cool climate” and “place-driven” names easy to remember and spell.  My brother was the super star contributor.  Name after name was taken, and then didn’t seem right after all…  “Now you can hate it freely; I hate it too!” Aaron said in his whimsical way when we learned the last marketer’s favorite was in use by a Spanish port producer.  For several months it was hard to have a normal conversation–or sleep for that matter;  name ideas were a constant distraction.

I visited the USPTO site more often than the average trademark lawyer.

With the vineyard site on a point, the tip of the Mayacamas range, around which you turn to come up Highway 29, and with the industry at a turning point from recession-slowed sales and import competition, and with Cabernet Sauvignon being done SO WELL in SO MANY PLACES, we felt a changing perspective on the bordeaux-inspired blend, and a change in direction for Napa Valley pricing and distribution is what really summed up our state of being here.  One late night, typing “turning point” “turn” “shift” into an online translator, I hit upon “virage.”

Friends who speak French explained the subtleties of this fine, easy-to-spell and easy-to-pronounce word.  No lie, I have a friend who not only speaks fluent French, he drives a Ferrari, and his father is a road engineer!  Vincent Georges –Napa’s top cave-builder –said, “It isn’t just a curve in the road; the virage is a banked road designed to balance the car through the turn.”  That did it!  Engineered for balance.  Virage it is.


About Emily Richer

Investment banker turned right banker.
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