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Dave Erickson

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Taylor Wine and Coca Cola

by Dave Erickson » Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:09 pm

I realize this is sort of O/T, but I figure it's worth a try:

In 1977, the Coca-Cola Company bought the New York State-based Taylor Wine Company, moved operations to California. According to business folklore (meaning I can't find a solid attribution), Coke's market research determined that the Taylor name was the most widely recognized in the U.S. wine business. The expectation was that Coke would turn Taylor into a brand that would compete successfully with the biggest California producers. Coke actually ran TV commercials in the '70s comparing Taylor wines to Gallo, Almaden, C.K. Mondavi, etc. Then in 1983, Coke sold Taylor and other wine properties to Seagram for $200+ million. (Seagram sold the business in 1987 for about the same amount). I'm trying to find out how much Coke paid for Taylor in the first place. I think there is a story here on how the marketing geniuses at Coke and Seagram's ended up basically wrecking the Taylor name. Maybe the story has already been written? All contributions gratefully accepted. :wink:
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Peter May

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Re: Taylor Wine and Coca Cola

by Peter May » Sun Aug 04, 2013 12:56 pm

They took my name but they didn't take my goat :)


I guess the Bully Hill museum will have the answer.
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Howie Hart

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Re: Taylor Wine and Coca Cola

by Howie Hart » Sun Aug 04, 2013 1:05 pm

It was apparently a merger, where shares of stock were exchanged. $95 million in stock was exchanged. I found this: http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1310&dat=19761109&id=E-1VAAAAIBAJ&sjid=9uADAAAAIBAJ&pg=3813,2061277
Chico - Hey! This Bottle is empty!
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Thomas

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Re: Taylor Wine and Coca Cola

by Thomas » Sun Aug 04, 2013 1:54 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:I realize this is sort of O/T, but I figure it's worth a try:

In 1977, the Coca-Cola Company bought the New York State-based Taylor Wine Company, moved operations to California. According to business folklore (meaning I can't find a solid attribution), Coke's market research determined that the Taylor name was the most widely recognized in the U.S. wine business. The expectation was that Coke would turn Taylor into a brand that would compete successfully with the biggest California producers. Coke actually ran TV commercials in the '70s comparing Taylor wines to Gallo, Almaden, C.K. Mondavi, etc. Then in 1983, Coke sold Taylor and other wine properties to Seagram for $200+ million. (Seagram sold the business in 1987 for about the same amount). I'm trying to find out how much Coke paid for Taylor in the first place. I think there is a story here on how the marketing geniuses at Coke and Seagram's ended up basically wrecking the Taylor name. Maybe the story has already been written? All contributions gratefully accepted. :wink:


Dave:

Taylor's rise and fall is quite a story. I have a book on this very subject awaiting editing at the publisher. I spent three years researching.

Howie is correct. It was a stock transfer deal.

Taylor's extensive distribution lured Coke to buy the company. Coke did not ruin the Taylor name; that feat was left to Seagram and Vintner's International. Taylor California Cellars sold like gangbusters, from 0 cases in 1977 to about 8 million in '82. Coke did well with its purchase, profit from, and subsequent sale of Taylor.

You won't find this information at the wine museum at Bully Hill, because Bully Hill was neither part of the Taylor Wine Company nor of Coca Cola.

PM me if you want to go further on this.
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Dave Erickson

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Re: Taylor Wine and Coca Cola

by Dave Erickson » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:46 pm

Thanks Howie, thanks Thomas--I'll wait for your book!

PS: Recently spent some quality time with "Wine: The 8,000-year-old story of the wine trade." The chapters on the effects of the World Wars I found especially interesting. Also all the little vignettes about the business: I knew the reason for Beaujolais Nouveau was financial; but it was even better to learn why! The profile on Schoonmaker was also illuminating. I recognized the name, and knew he was an importer, but I had no idea of his importance, especially in California.
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Re: Taylor Wine and Coca Cola

by Thomas » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:56 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:Thanks Howie, thanks Thomas--I'll wait for your book!

PS: Recently spent some quality time with "Wine: The 8,000-year-old story of the wine trade." The chapters on the effects of the World Wars I found especially interesting. Also all the little vignettes about the business: I knew the reason for Beaujolais Nouveau was financial; but it was even better to learn why! The profile on Schoonmaker was also illuminating. I recognized the name, and knew he was an importer, but I had no idea of his importance, especially in California.


Schoonmaker was even more important than I covered in that book. There's more about him in the Taylor book, because he worked for the competition: Almaden. He was the force behind Almaden's varietal program. Remember Almaden Grenache Rose? Good or bad, Schoonmaker was also behind the idea that restaurants needed a producer or distributor to print their wine lists. Before Almaden, he was connected with Acker Merrall. His influence went deep.

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