Texans Emerge as Finalists for California Vintner

Two Texas agencies are taking the fight for a California vintner’s business down to the wire, sources said.

Austin-based GSD&M and The Richards Group here are finalists for Robert Mondavi’s estimated $15 million creative and media account. Other finalists, according to sources, are Venables Bell of San Francisco and Deutsch/LA in Marina del Rey, Calif.

Incumbent Dailey & Associates held the vintner’s account for the past four years. The West Hollywood, Calif., agency did not make it past the review’s second round, which included six shops.

The finalists were given a creative assignment Wednesday. A decision is expected by the end of April.

Sources said the decision to put the account in review came from Mondavi’s vice president of marketing, Dennis Joyce [Adweek, March 4], who joined the firm last year.

New York-based consultant Roth Associates is handling the review, sources said. Neither the client nor the consultant could be reached for comment.

Mondavi’s primary focus is Woodbridge, its top-selling wine. The winery spent more than $11 million of its $12 million-plus 2001 advertising budget promoting that brand, according to CMR.

Woodbridge wine retails for about $9 a bottle and accounts for approximately half of Mondavi’s sales volume. Other brands include Arrowood, Lucente, Opus One, Sena and Vichon.

Both Richards and GSD&M are eager to become the second Texas shop to land a California wine account in the past month.

The Integer Group in Dallas recently won Beringer Blass Wine Estates’ creative account after a six-month review that included more than 20 agencies.

Integer’s victory marked the first time the Napa Valley-based client had consolidated all its premium labels at a single agency.

The wild card in the review is Venables Bell, a relatively new California shop established by ex-staff members of the Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.

GSD&M, Richards and Deustch/LA, which is agency of record for Mitsubishi Motors, currently have no vintners on their client rosters.