A Healdsburg winery’s glitzy job contest promised $10K a month. It was a stunt

If you hadn’t heard of Murphy-Goode Winery earlier than, you in all probability have by now. The Healdsburg property was out of the blue all around the web just lately with information of its Really Goode Job marketing campaign, which provided what appears like a dream gig: a yearlong apprenticeship on the vineyard, free lodging in a vineyard-adjacent Victorian and a yr’s provide of wine. Oh, and a wage of $10,000 a month.Few job postings, particularly within the wine {industry}, go viral (although, unusually, one other one did just lately). “I truthfully didn’t count on this a lot curiosity,” says Murphy-Goode winemaker Dave Ready. “I was like, ‘holy cow!’”
After winnowing down 7,000 video functions, final week Murphy-Goode named two winners: Veronica Hebbard of Florida and Lindsay Perry of Texas. Both are 28, have by no means labored within the wine {industry} and began wine-focused Instagram accounts in the course of the pandemic.

As a lot because it’s a profession alternative, the Really Goode Job can be clearly a publicity stunt, pulled off by one among California’s largest wine companies, Murphy-Goode guardian firm Jackson Family Wines. The job contest sounded prefer it was crafted to turn out to be a viral headline — $10,000 a month and rent-free dwelling in Sonoma County?! — and its winners appear chosen, not less than partially, for his or her social media savvy.

Paying these salaries might on some degree merely be an alternate approach of paying for influencer advertising and concentrating on one among wine’s most elusive and sought-after audiences: youthful drinkers who spend their time on social media. And elements of the marketing campaign have felt extra like a actuality TV competitors than like a hiring course of, right down to the way in which Murphy-Goode publicized flying out the 17 finalists to Healdsburg for a Wine Country weekend.

“I really feel like a Kardashian,” Hebbard says, referring to all of the media consideration she’s obtained since being named a winner.

Well, hats off to Murphy-Goode, as a result of so far as publicity stunts go, this one has been extremely profitable. This job marketing campaign has made the model a lot extra seen, resulting in tales even in publications that seldom cowl vineyard information like NPR and CNN. It additionally reveals a canny understanding on the a part of Murphy-Goode that digital proclivities could also be as vital as wine-industry expertise for sure forms of roles.

Finally, it’s important that each of the winners are girls, a demographic that Murphy-Goode hasn’t all the time seemed to be reaching out to as clients. Much of its branding up to now has appeared to focus on males, posting grilling, golf and tailgating content material and utilizing the hashtag #winelikeaman.

But the truth that the Really Goode Job is a publicity stunt doesn’t imply that it isn’t additionally … a good job. What many individuals who noticed the job marketing campaign headlines won’t have identified is that Murphy-Goode has really executed this as soon as earlier than, in 2009, and that yr’s winner ended up turning into an acclaimed vintner, Hardy Wallace of Dirty & Rowdy Family Wines. Wallace describes the job as “one of many monumental experiences of my life.” Though he had a following from an eccentric wine weblog earlier than successful the marketing campaign, it was the Murphy-Goode apprenticeship that allowed him to maneuver to California and get his begin in winemaking.

The vineyard doesn’t dispute that the marketing campaign is partially an try to extend its visibility on social media: The impetus behind the 2009 marketing campaign, fairly explicitly, was that Murphy-Goode wanted to get on social media and didn’t actually understand how. “The time period didn’t exist then, however we had been actually on the lookout for what I suppose you’d name as we speak a social media influencer,” Ready says. Wallace’s job title at Murphy-Goode was “way of life correspondent,” and he says he spent most of his time capturing movies, writing weblog posts and attending occasions.

Then as now, the true achieve in publicity was as a lot from the job utility course of as from the job itself. But it generated some blowback in 2009, with critics stating the incongruity of providing a $10,000-a-month job throughout a recession, and significantly after Jackson Family Wines had simply gone by way of “important layoffs,” as The Chronicle reported on the time.

Hardy Wallace from Atlanta used his additional Delta award miles to fly into San Francisco to be first in line at a Help Wanted sales space that Murphy-Goode Winery had arrange in San Francisco in 2009.Lance Iversen/The Chronicle 2009

It’s onerous to not really feel a little cynical about the entire thing this yr, too. Murphy-Goode was impressed to relaunch the marketing campaign after a 12-year hiatus, in response to Ready, due to the nation’s excessive unemployment numbers in the course of the pandemic: Since plenty of individuals had misplaced their jobs, the vineyard may not less than present two extra. But each Hebbard, an engineer for Disney, and Perry, a advertising specialist for a cheerleading broadcaster, had been employed after they utilized.

And their expertise in Healdsburg is not going to resemble the everyday path to coming into the wine {industry}. Most newcomers to the sector need to endure brief bouts of employment that pay simply over minimal wage, contain plenty of handbook labor and final solely a few months — the size of a harvest season. At $120,000 for the yr, Perry and Hebbard’s salaries can be considerably greater than that of the common California vineyard employee, who earns about $40,000 yearly, per ZipRecruiter. It’s the sort of cash that solely a extra monied firm like Jackson Family Wines, which in response to Wine Business Monthly offered 6 million circumstances of wine final yr, can afford. The firm needs to be judged on its dedication to regular job creation, not viral-contest job creation.

Still, it’s not a dangerous gig for Perry and Hebbard, and extra energy to them for touchdown it. They might have the possibility to affix Murphy-Goode completely after their yr is up if that’s what they need. “I may see each of them staying a actually very long time, and I believe that may be their intention too,” Ready says. It’s equally attainable that they’ll capitalize on the expertise, clout and monetary safety offered by the Really Goode Job and go in one other course within the {industry} solely.

Hardy Wallace pulls a pattern a few of his Mourvedre wine in 2019. After successful a contest to turn out to be a way of life correspondent for Murphy-Goode Winery, the previous wine blogger began his personal wine label, Dirty & Rowdy.Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The Chronicle 2019

That’s what Wallace did. When he left Murphy-Goode he went to work for Salinia, a Healdsburg vineyard that couldn’t have been extra completely different from his earlier employer. Whereas Murphy-Goode makes daring, fruity, cheap wines for the mass market, Salinia (which has since closed) was one of the experimental wineries within the Bay Area, producing fewer than 1,000 circumstances a yr of pure wine. That fall, in 2010, Wallace made the primary classic of Dirty & Rowdy, shopping for grapes from Santa Barbara County, and commenced to make a identify for himself as one of many state’s most modern winemakers. He’s now identified for crafting Mourvedres which might be intentionally atypical, mild and ethereal versus the same old heavier examples.

Murphy-Goode might have gotten him to California, however for years Wallace downplayed its function in his profession. “I didn’t wish to simply be referred to as the man who gained the contest,” he says.

Now, nevertheless, he embraces it as a part of his story. He’s undoubtedly not simply the man who gained the contest — he’s shaped his personal separate skilled id, and he can acknowledge the function Murphy-Goode performed in that. “I can now see it’s not about what the job is, it’s about the place the job can take you,” he says.

He hopes that Hebbard and Perry can use it as a comparable form of launchpad for no matter they select to do subsequent. “Murphy-Goode noticed in these girls one thing extremely particular,” Wallace says. “They can go anyplace from right here.”

Esther Mobley is The San Francisco Chronicle’s wine critic. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @Esther_mobley


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