Behold! The unlikely story of Taylor California Cellars, “Coca-Cola’s forgotten foray into the wine industry.”
I was just a kid back then, but I remember the Judgment of Paris and, two years later, Wine Spectrum’s purchase of Monterey Vineyards, which was just 20 minutes down the road from where I lived. (Well…I remember the adults in my life talking about it, at least. It seemed like a pretty big deal at the time.)
Turns out it was a pretty big deal. According to NPR, California wasn’t the only beneficiary: “In the aftermath of the tasting, new vineyards bloomed around the U.S. (think Oregon, Washington and Virginia) and the world—from Argentina to Australia.”
But back to Taylor California Cellars:
What’s ironic is that Coke was actually naming names in their ad campaign, saying that, according to the experts, Taylor was better than [insert competitor here]—which is exactly how Pepsi had been grabbing market share from Coke since 1975.
And it worked—though apparently not well enough. In 1982, when the above commercial aired, Coke’s stock rose 49.63%. The next year, they got out of the wine business entirely, selling their Wine Spectrum portfolio to Joseph E. Seagram & Sons for a cool $200 million.
Makes me think it’s not just the 1976 Paris tasting we have to thank for the “blooming” of vineyards around the world. Coke’s involvement—short though it was—likely also had a huge effect in bringing wine to the masses.