Washington wineries tackle Miami market

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WALLA WALLA — Washington grapes are headed for the Florida gridiron.

Nine Washington wineries — five hailing from Walla Walla — will be poured during Miami Dolphins games at Sun Life Stadium during the 2014-15 season, said Bob Silver of Seattle-based public relations firm Silver Strategic Communications.

The program is part of a season-long promotion with Hospital Corporation of America East Florida’s “Eat This. Drink That. Go!”

The promotion is a partnership with Whole Foods Market and Deliver Lean, a media company hosted by former Dolphins wide receiver Jimmy Cefalo and Brenda Bassett, focusing on food and wine lovers in South Florida.

The wineries will be showcased in Cefalo’s Legends Suite at Sun Life Stadium. During home games some of South Florida’s finest restaurants and beverage companies will provide food and drink in the what is one of the premier luxury suites at the stadium. The suite is sold out for this season.

Bassett, president and co-owner of Cefalo’s International, worked with Silver to find Washington wineries for the promotion. Within 24 hours of inviting 50 Washington wineries to participate, all nine slots were filled, Silver said in the announcement. Others are on a waiting list to participate.

“Florida was a target market several years ago for Washington wine associations,” Silver said in a prepared statement. “Hopefully, this season-long promotion will help remind Florida consumers just how terrific Washington wines are.”

Participating wineries include Waterbrook, Novelty Hill/Januik, Corvus Cellars, Canoe Ridge, Obelisco Estate, Gramercy Cellars, J. Bookwalter, Barrage Cellars and Balboa.

The opening of Passing Time, the Washington winery launched by former Dolphins quarterbacks Dan Marino and Damon Huard, created a gateway for the promotion, Bassett said in the announcement.

The promotion kicked off Thursday night at the Dolphins’ final preseason game. Waterbrook’s white wines were poured for patrons.

The next, Woodinville’s Novelty Hill/Januik, will be served in the team’s home opener Sunday against the New England Patriots.

In addition to being poured, the wineries’ winemakers will be interviewed for the promotion’s weekly radio and television program, which airs and streams live in South Florida and nationally on iHeartRadio.

The interviews will also be featured on the “Eat This. Drink That. Go!” television show that airs three times a day on The Beach Channel via local cable stations and on hotel channels.

The reach is 800,000 households and hotel rooms in the Palm Beach and Key West areas.

The wineries are also promoted on the Dolphins’ website, reaching 200,000 unique visitors per day. Participating wineries are also working on setting up winemaker dinners and other promotional activities to go with the games.

“This terrific lineup of wineries offers a great cross-section of Washington’s wine industry,” Silver continued.

“We have some excellent large producers as well as smaller, 1,000-case wineries. (‘Eat This. Drink That. Go!’) listeners and viewers will learn about the exciting wines coming out of Washington.”