Swag time: The best wine freebie

sonoma county vintners swag from sophie jump of jumpstart solutions

Go to enough wine tastings, press conferences, trade fairs and winery tours and you will end up with a closet worth of openers, notebooks, lapel pins, towels, cork-shaped USB keys, T-shirts, bookmarks, baseball caps, grape bunch-shaped fridge magnets, and on and on and on. No doubt, much of this material will be carefully curated and passed through the generations of those who received it. But some is of immediate usefulness. The textbook example is this Sonoma County bag:

I received this bag in the May of 2013 during a visit to Sonoma County. The bags were sourced by Sophie Jump of Jumpstart Solutions when she worked with Sonoma County Vintners to bring a group of wine trade people from Beijing, Shanghai and Macau stateside. I don’t believe any amount of writing I could do would promote Sonoma as much as this bag.

First, it works perfectly as a carry on, able to neatly fit my laptop, a few books, lots of ear plugs, an extra pair of socks, and any other items crucial to a 12-hour flight. It has slots for pens and phones, a clip for keys, pouches that zip up tight, and flexible holders at the end that can fit small water bottles. It is equally useful — when packed with notebooks, an extra battery pack, some snacks and more — while traipsing around vineyards. So, what’s my point?

This bag has visited places like Mendoza, San Jose and Salta in Argentina, Stellenbosch in South Africa, Xinjiang, Ningxia, Shanxi, Hebei and Shandong in China and, earlier this year on a return trip to California, Sonoma, Napa, Lodi and Livermore. It almost always elicits a comment about Sonona that ends up with anecdotes about the wonderful Rockpile Zinfandels or the delicious Sonoma Valley Chardonnays or the incredible diversity of this relatively small county, anecdotes that would not likely have arisen in Capetown, Stellenbosch or Yinchuan if I was not carrying that bag.

It’s equally useful in Beijing, whether stuffed with up to six full bottles of wine en route to a tasting of with six half-full ones post-tasting to be shared with friends at a local bar or restaurant. Nothing makes people organizing tastings of wines from Napa, Barossa, Mendoza or leading regions happier than someone in the front row plunking down a Sonoma County bag in full view. (Did I mention that Sonoma offers to much diversity in contrast to many other well-known regions?)

It can also fit all of the score sheets, pencils, clipboards and the other materials needed for our annual Grape Wall Challenges. And it has made hundreds of shopping trips in Beijing, where it has been stuffed with everything from potatoes and tomatoes and walnuts and bayberries, brought to the city daily by farmers at the local wet market, to rice, beans, crackers, sesame oil, dumplings and anything else I might find at the supermarket.

It’s quite the swag. One that’s been lost and found a half-dozen times, stepped and vomited upon, soaked in wine (spills do happen) and in water (so do rainstorms) and coated in dirt from dozens of wineries. Yet it still functions well about 30 months of nearly daily yes. Did I  mention Sonoma County makes some of the more diverse wines in the world?

sonoma county vintners swag from sophie jump of jumpstart solutions (2)

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