Friday, August 05, 2011

Prison themed wine

If you were launching a vineyard and looking for ways to market your product, would you choose prison themes and imagery as your main selling point? For a few years now a vineyard out of California, located next door to the notorious Soledad prison unit, has operated as the Big House Wine Company, with product names like "Big House Red," "Unchained," "The Usual Suspect," "The Bird Man," and "The Slammer." They've got fun art on the labels and if your vineyard operates in the shadow of a famous prison I suppose I can understand the branding decision.

Anyway, last night we had a party at the house to celebrate the missus' birthday and afterward while cleaning up, I noticed one of our guests brought a vintage from "Chain Gang Vineyards" out of California called "First Timer," with a faux mugshot on the label no less. I found no website for the brand, but while searching I did run across something called Rockpile Vineyards in northern California. There, according to, "Legend has it that the appellation's unusual name comes from the Rockpile Ranch, where Sheriff Tennessee Bishop would put prisoners to work building roads to his mountain home. It was the men on the chain gang who allegedly dubbed the place 'rockpile.'" One prison-themed vineyard may be an outlier; three perhaps signal a trend. Either way, kind of an odd marketing decision, doncha think?


The Homeless Cowboy said...

It's just strange enough for me to think it's cool. Why not? Ease up enough to poke a little fun at ourselves now and again.More power to them Im okay with it Good Luck

Sandy said...

I think it's a great marketing strategy. I want some!

JC said...

Big House Red's been around for many years. It was named for a single small vineyard owned by Bonny Doon which is known for its quirks (their more expensive signature bottle is and was flying saucer themed). They sold the brand to the same large (second-biggest in US) wine company that owns Franzia and Inglenook some years ago and that's when it became a larger line and marketing gimmick.

BarkGrowlBite said...

Pruno is what clandestine brews made in prison lavatories are known as. With prison-themed wines for sale on the open market, why hasn’t anyone ever bottled and marketed any Pruno for the free world?

Scott, I've published this post on today's PACOVILLA Corrections blog and it will be on my blog tomorrow.