Simi Winery Created A Hollywood-caliber Homage To Its Pioneering Female Leader

Posted: May 26, 2021

Isabelle Simi was a pioneer in the American wine industry, taking over her family’s Northern California company in 1904—before women could legally vote—and keeping it alive through Prohibition by selling sacramental wine to churches.

And in the 1930s, as soon as booze could flow freely again, Simi became an early experiential marketer, opening one of the area’s first wine-tasting rooms along the newly built Highway 101. (She made her eye-catching roadside attraction from a 25,000-gallon wine cask and installed a pay phone, a novelty at the time, as a value-add for travelers).

Simi’s groundbreaking business life gets the mini-movie treatment in a nearly 5-minute video from Venables Bell + Partners and commercial director Nick Ball for the Sonoma-based brand.

The biopic, dubbed “Goodness from Grit,” focuses on the entrepreneur’s dedication to her craft and strength in the face of adversity (her father and uncle died unexpectedly of the flu, leaving her to run Simi Winery at 18 years old). It also bucks the prevailing trend in the category of highlighting luxury and leisure.

“We believe there is power in telling Isabelle’s story because the Simi consumer can relate to that today,” Julie Rossman, vp of marketing for the Constellation Brands winery. “This past year has brought its own challenges for so many people, and we saw the opportunity to honor real people’s grit by shining a light on someone who beat the odds stacked against her.”

Simi’s consumers “see hard work as a virtue,” she said. “We’re in a period when the nature of work is changing, and people feel empowered, like Isabelle, to create their own destinies.”

By T.L. Stanley
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