One of America¹s Most Beloved Wineries

The Situation

Cakebread Cellars has had a deserved reputation for producing excellent wines and has been recognized by consumer and trade surveys as a coveted brand. While many of Cakebread wines have earned critical acclaim, the winery had also been involved in significant ongoing initiatives to elevate the discussion of wine and food from both culinary and educational perspectives. The agency’s assignment was to generate key media exposure of these programs.

The Goals

  • Further extend Cakebread’s reputation as one of Napa Valley’s premier producers of the highest quality and in-demand wines through exposure in high-end demographic press.
  • Position individual family members as expert resources for the press on proprietary topics such as Cakebread’s three day MBA-like program for graduate students; Access To The Top (Jack Cakebread visiting the top graduate schools for an afternoon seminar); vineyard technology and management and its American Harvest Workshop.
  • Establish Cakebread as a top-tier press resource on premium wine issues.

The Solution

  • Utilize Cakebread’s wine and food events such as the American Harvest Workshop, Cakebread U and nationwide Vintner Dinner program to generate awareness of specific winery story angles.
  • Create topic-specific media solicitation letters targeted against select media.
  • Invigorate the winery visit program where journalists can enjoy the Cakebread experience and are given a private tour; preview releases; a gourmet lunch with one or more of the family members and one-on-one interviews on specific topics.
  • Establish press exposure goals for each primary press outreach.

The Results

  • The impact of the public relations campaign can be tracked to sales of wine mentioned in articles.
  • The consumer-based media exposure reached many more top tier press than in past efforts. Exposure included New York Times Sunday Business Section, Newsweek, Time, Fortune, Ladies Home Journal, Harpers Bazaar, Robb Report (three times); BusinessWeek Online, Departures Magazine, MSNBC, Better Homes & Garden, among many others. Cakebread Cellars has been featured in six of the top 10 daily newspapers.
  • The American Harvest Workshop has entertained top journalists from Gourmet Magazine, Better Homes & Garden, Metropolitan Home, San Francisco Chronicle, Wine Investor/Buyers Guide, Ladies Home Journal, Associated Press and more.

Work Samples

Contact Us

14415 Benefit Street, Suite 202 Sherman Oaks, CA. 91423

Phone: 310.849-5573

Fax: 818.849-5696



We brought Steve onboard to help us define our position in the marketplace and provide a marketing strategy to take us to the next level. He performed a comprehensive audit of our senior staff, board members and other key parties to provide a positioning for our business model, searched for a branding agency overseeing all elements of the RFP, and conducted an advertising agency resource review with equal skill and professionalism. He handled these challenging tasks with enthusiasm and efficiency that made our senior staff’s time effective throughout this process. Following the completion of the branding and advertising searches, Steve supervised a number of other marketing programs including a public relations outreach which resulted in highly positive exposure in USA Today, CNNRadio, ABC television, CBS Marketwatch and many more placements for our new brand. He has become an important part of our team and I would recommend him without reservation as a professional who is a quick study, able to drive a marketing campaign to successful goals and is focused on providing tangible ROI for his clients.
Gary Brahm, Chancellor & CEO, Brandman University, part of the Chapman University System, Former EVP & COO, Chapman University
Articulating the broad-based philosophy and passion of the founders of a truly revered product requires a skill set that is much more strategic and complex than a traditional marketing campaign. Steve Smith and his team were selected to craft and implement just such a program for Cakebread Cellars which would persuasively convey the family’s commitment to community, education and the joy of wine and food. The quality and demand for their premium wine was the foundation for communicating the Cakebread’s ideals and values to a high end audience through a flow of ‘backend’ stories by top-tier media and through proprietary events. This included the American Harvest Workshop, which brings together leading chefs and journalists and Cakebread U, which provides a three-day educational program for students from leading universities about the world of wine. The agency focused on the most powerful non-wine press continuing to build on brand cache and the vision of the founders. There aren’t many agencies that get it but Smith PR does.
Cathleen Burke Visscher, Founder, Wine Works & Co., Former senior vice president and director of corporate development at Kobrand Corp., a leading high end wine and spirits company with interests in California, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and more