Communications

Over the past 25 years, we have formed and nurtured relationships with key wine publics, including media, bloggers, sommeliers, distributors, and other key influencers. Our expertise in the wine industry allows us to communicate effectively and influentially with these publics.

We believe in integrated marketing communications—a program that uses the best of each medium to build on the impact of others, so that the end result far exceeds what can be expected from any single source or campaign. In our work, advertising, market development, education programs and sales campaigns work together to build interest, increase impact, and generate better results.

Public
Relations

Public Relations is the work and art of managing your company’s relationships with various publics, or audiences. This means more than just media and consumers: it also includes your distributors and sales network, key influencers, and front-line employees. We also train spokespeople to be effective company communicators who stay on message.

Balzac actively seeks creative solutions to fashioning those messages. We enjoy the creative process, and we know how important a dash of creativity can be to a public relations message or campaign. Then we are relentless about doing the basic blocking and tackling that make it all work.

Lastly, we can help you get in front of a looming issue or respond immediately in case of an emergency in a way that is consistent with your public relations plan and that deals honestly and effectively with the questions that have arisen.

Content
Marketing

Content marketing uses real content to attract and keep customers. Gone are the days of fluff and flash—it’s all been done, and endears you to nobody. Of course it is a little more nuanced than that. The content has to be valuable, relevant and aimed at a focused target audience: your consumer or public. And delivery—using both traditional and digital media—has to be consistent and entertaining, communicating your message in an engaging fashion that keeps consumers genuinely interested in your product.

Menu of Services:

  • Copy writing
  • Design
  • Photography
  • Art Direction
  • Placement
  • Advertorial
  • Measurement of effectiveness

 

Digital
Media

Every day, customers are getting more of their information online. Social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Instagram, Twitter, and blogs have generated unprecedented interest in wine. People are already talking about your brand. Now is the time to join the conversation to make sure it includes the content you want. Based on our expertise, we develop strategies and incorporate digital marketing tools—like the live Twitter tasting shown in the image at left—into the content marketing mix to further enhance your brand’s influence and reach.

Menu of Services:

  • Social Media Marketing Strategy
  • Online Presence Assessment
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Community Building
  • Social Network Profiles
  • Blog Design
Traditional
Media

Balzac does not sit back and work from afar; we hit the pavement for you. Every type of media has its place, and traditional media are still truly effective means of getting your focused message out into the world. From a traditional press kit (adaptable to online use) to tasting events to picking up the phone and pitching a story idea crafted around your content, we have the expertise and experience to take advantage of the most effective traditional media. We mix that in with your Digital Media programs to make sure all efforts are integrated and complementary.

Menu of Services:

  • Press Office
  • Media Kit Creation
  • Press Releases
  • Media Sample Mailing
  • Industry Events
  • Market Visits
  • Trade and Media Tours
  • Public Speaking and Presentations
  • Clip Tracking

Design

Balzac is expert at creating design materials that go beyond gorgeous and reach into the heart of the audience to get the needed response. Our goal is not to make the client look good to himself or herself. Our goal is to make sure that the message is clearly received by the client’s target audience.

Digital Design
Balzac Communications & Marketing

When you’re a leading-edge marketing agency, your very own website darn well better lead, not follow. The proprietary innovations on our website begin right away, with slide-out submenus built directly into a fully responsive masonry grid. Once the visitor begins to scroll down past the opening grid, introductory copy magically morphs into a persistent traditional navigation bar. We gave the parallax site format a new twist by fusing homepage headers to their relevant sections so that they bleed and yet overlap previous sections simultaneously. Our “people”section features self- expanding bios in yet another dynamic masonry grid, our “events” gallery automagically grays out events that have already happened... Oh, enough already...you're here! Go look around!

Ed's Red, Napa Valley

We just have to trumpet about the bold and irreverent design we did for Ed's Red. It started with a rebranding that examined the finer aspects of their logo: defining just what makes a pachyderm look like a mammoth and not just any ol' elephant, using the fewest possible elements so that it communicates concept at the smallest of sizes. Logotype explorations followed: developing a custom typeface which aptly conveys prehistory in a style that's fun without being over-the-top corny. We then infused the design of their brand-new website with the very same style cues. It's as easy to navigate as it is fun to explore, with elegant, fully responsive design that rocks on any screen or device.

Oak Ridge Winery, Lodi

A more fully featured winery website you're not likely to find, and it doesn't hurt that it's so easy on the eyes. A persistent top menu of Oak Ridge's eight most important brands follows the user from page to page, allowing easy access to basic information on each brand no matter where you are on the site. From each brand page (or from the main menu) one can access that brand's collateral materials by way of a dead-simple, elegant Dropbox-based downloading engine.  The wine retail location feature, the blog, wine club, accolades, calendar—there are just a ton of ways to let yourself get sucked into this website. Throughout it all is the fundamental appeal of a thriving family winery, which we've captured with visual elegance and vital, tasteful content both written and photographed. Did we mention that we did all that, too?

Taplin Cellars, Napa Valley

The website so nice, we designed it twice! When we originally designed the logo, wine labels, and website for the Taplin Family, who's agricultural history in the Napa Valley is long, we focused on a visual identity that conveyed the length and depth of that history. Yet the limitations of web design in the mid-2000s still limited our ability to convey the epic sweep which the subject demands. Not any more! Responsive design has changed the game, and we're now allowed the luxury of open, panoramic layouts that convey this sense-of-place with ease on any device. We're proud to support this local family and pleased beyond words that they chose to return to Balzac to update and future-proof their magnificent taplincellars.com website!

Tru-Cutt Precision Cutting Tool

Does Balzac Design handle projects outside of the wine industry? YES, WE DO! Doing so much work for wineries around the globe, it's nice to have the occasional "palate-cleanser." We had a blast designing the website for Tru-Cutt, a revolutionary new pipe cutting tool. While decidedly industrial, the website exhibits a clean, modern and uncluttered design that communicates clearly and raises the bar for industrial visual design. Just wait 'til you see the packaging...

Trinité/Acaibo Wine, Sonoma County

To launch their first American winemaking estate on Chalk Hill, Trinité Estate, and their first Bordeaux blend, Acaibo, esteemed chateaux stewards Claire and Gonzague Lurton wanted a look that was clean and direct, while still conveying the majestic sweep of their Sonoma County environs. At the same time, they needed an outside-the-box navigation system that allows persistent direct links to their five French chateaux, multiple "story" tabs within each content area, and an also-persistent vertical main menu that translates well on desktops, tablets, and mobile phones alike.

Experience Wines, Napa Valley

We grabbed all the appropriate style cues from Experience Wines' dark and rich—yet whimsical...label work and shot for the moon. Cohesive branding from packaging to website is the name of the game, and we love this sumptuous website that is intensely visual yet conveys information clearly and effectively.  As always, responsive design insures a focused visitor experience, from your giant cinema displays all the way down to that smartphone.

Split Creek Farms Wines

We were thrilled to be able to broaden the existing visual identity of Split Creek Farms' knockout wine label and bottle design in a more three-dimensional photographic style...by way of their brand new website. The folksy, Steinbeck-esque appeal of their square-sided bottles with chunky hand-wrought typography gets adapted to the persistent menu logo, and expanded upon by way of some down-home photographic textures site-wide.



Art Association Napa Valley

This website's not just a pretty face: beyond its open, easy-to-navigate aesthetic and intuitive menu design, there are a host of back-end features that allow AANV's administrators to handle all aspects of memberships, mailing lists, artists' galleries and the like with a minimum of redundancy. Simple one-click controls in the site's virtual "dashboard" allow administrators to categorize artists, hide or display their galleries and assign their profiles to various pages within the site simply by designating their level of membership. The same designations automagically feed into categorized mailing lists, making targeted communication with members a breeze. The logo is a collaboration between Balzac and AANV's Christine George. While the primary logo clearly implies the valley landscape and its artistic community in equal measure, it also offers robust branding flexibility by way of color cues used to invoke the identity of AANV's three sibling organizations.

Planet Bordeaux

The original Planet Bordeaux website was built by Balzac five years ago as the definitive source of information about the region for an American audience. With the advent of responsive design and content management, it was time for a facelift in 2014 that would make the website as visually dynamic as it is informative.

Il Fiorello Olive Oil Co.

It's not all wine around here! Il Fiorello has been a client for years (we designed their olive oil label and original website) and is one of the first wave of clients we've been lucky to work with on a totally responsive website redesign: a single site that automagically resizes and and reconfigures each page element to perfectly fill any screen from your big ol' monitor all the way down to your smart phone—future-proof!

Identity
NapaLearns Logo

NapaLearns is an organization committed to putting forward-thinking methodologies in education into immediate action. How to embody this in a logotype most simply? We feel that the simple border that emanates directly from the ascenders and descenders of the typeface, wraps the type as an aperture, and terminates as two dots is not easily misinterpreted. Two simple lines paired with a font choice/color choice that both have strong subliminal connotations of "friendly high tech.” Sorry, but we’re nailin’ it here. Because we didn’t have to tell you it looks like a circuit board, right?

Take Hunger Off The Menu Logo, Gasser Foundation, Napa

Who says big business should get all the world-class design? We love a good cause, and love to give 'em the tools they need to change the world...or at least our hometown.

This logo for the Gasser Foundation's campaign to end hunger in Napa exhibits clean design that's evocative and to-the-point. It's clearly a menu, and hunger is clearly "missing" from it. All without being overtly illustrative and staying quite stylish.

Maverick Bottle Top Logo

Logos are always a challenge, and this one was no exception. The goal was threefold: to start, the overall look needed to be rather clean and high tech to convey the cutting-edge service and technology offered by the company. Secondly, the logo had to include some kind of visual reference to the specific technology —“ bottle encapsulation"—that is being sold, along with a sense of movement, both physical and conceptual. Lastly, the initials of the company should be referenced to create a logo that also works as a stand-alone trademark.

Revolution WInery Logo

Virginia-based Revolution Winery, working with Balzac, explored various methods for conveying the concept of revolution—both literal and abstract—before settling on an approach that plays more off the physical motion (as in a revolving object) rather than an act of civil revolt. The graceful arcing flourishes to the logotype suggest not only rotation but also a corkscrew.

Sonoma Ecology Center Logo

The two best things a client can say: "Everyone here still loves it three years later." "Other organizations we speak to have 'Logo Envy.'" This logo gets both compliments a lot. Beyond its elegant, simple forms, it implies a balance between land and water with the yin-yang fish-and-leaf.  This year we've done an update for them to celebrate their 25th anniversary as well!

Encompass Human Resources Logo

Who says a great logo needs to be complicated? Not us! This logo’s bracketed motif quickly says, “We think of everything!” while at the same time conveying an aura of professionalism and efficiency with its clean lines and earnest color palette.

868 Estate Winery Logo

When you start with a great name, great design gets a lot easier, and longtime Balzac clients Carl and Erin DiManno always pick great names for their brands. If you read this eNewsletter, you've seen proof of this before in the logotype we created for their former brand, Revolution. Marketing acumen strikes again in their first series of estate offerings, hailing from their very own art, tasting and dining destination property in the up-and-coming winemaking haven of Virginia (wait for it). 868 Estate is the place, and the branding was developed with ordained iterations for vertical and horizontal usage that carry equal elegance and weight. Each year Balzac works with their gallery curator to pick pieces by local fine artists most reflective of the 868 aesthetic, and adjust color cues accordingly.

Premiere Viticulture Logo

Premiere Viticulture designs online software to help winemakers track and manage all aspects of their annual crop. The primary visual goal of their logo as they envisioned it would be to convey a sense of nurturing and growth, which implies not only the relationship of winemaker to wine, but also the relationship between Premiere and its clients.

Mill River WInery Logo

Located on the picturesque North Shore of Massachusetts, Mill River Winery asked Balzac to create a logo and label that reflect the unique regional allure of these picturesque coastal marshlands. Following a thorough visual research phase and many hand-drawn thumbnail sketches, the ubiquitous red-winged blackbird was chosen as Mill River's emissary. By cleverly pairing the bird with a mirror image in silver-green foil stamping, we are able to create the perception of reflective and shimmering bodies of water in the negative space. Rugged WPA-era typography, with a common cattail "i" motif, completes the logo and speaks to the rural, working-class history of the area including the winery site itself, which was previously a Cider Mill.

Napa Magnet Schools, Napa Valley Unified School District

It’s hard to find ways to say “Napa” without resorting to trite visual elements like grape clusters, etc. It’s even harder to fuse that sense-of-place with another completely different message, all inside a logo that remains clean and uncluttered. The directive for Napa Magnet Schools was firstly to convey such concepts of aspiration, education, self-betterment, and achievement. Anything beyond that was, as they say, gravy. Pour it on: the magnet icon was certainly a gimme, but fusing the concept behind magnet schools with the aforementioned directives and adding a sense of locale (we love our hot air balloons around here) was a slam-dunk. Generally simple, rounded-off forms and loping curves throughout yield a vibe of childlike wonderment to boot.

Courtney Custom Boots Logo

In all fairness, this subject matter simply begs for a logo treatment, and it’s not hard to tell folks that you make cowboy boots given the easily-identifiable nature of the central icon. That said, we wanted to convey a sophisticated aesthetic in keeping with this Napa Valley company that makes boots for the Beverly Hills set, with prices reaching quadruple digits…and we think we’ve done just that. The clean-yet-accessible sans-serif font and icon pairing definitely buck (pun intended) the typical “gee-howdy” vibe that similar manufacturers seem dig their heels into.

Taplin Cellars Logo

The Taplin family wanted their logo to exemplify both the old-world, slow-and-careful methodology that defines great winemaking as well as a more modern twist that speaks to state-of-the-art practices. The old-world part? they made that easy: we obtained from the family a fantastic old “milk book” from the 1920s that had page after page of delivery notations written by hand by actual Taplin family members. The calligraphy was gorgeous, personal, and unique. We pilfered the finest examples of each letter in the “Taplin” name and typeset it to suit. For the new-world part, we did a lot of in-depth type studies and eventually settled on a hand-modified version of At Sackers that nests under the ascender of the “p” in “Taplin” nicely without unbalancing the logo as a whole.

Napa Valley Life Magazine Logo

When rebranding Napa Valley Life Magazine—and redesigning its logo—the goal was to reach a sophisticated demographic while not ignoring the local element or losing a sense of playfulness. After all, the magazine is meant for enjoyment by locals AND visitors. So, while the “spell out” logotype is urban-yet-approachable, the “NVL” icon drops just a hint of viticulture in its leafy, interlocked forms.

BOB Wine Bottle Closure Logo

This logo is as effective as it is simple. The BOB name is an acronym for ”Best of Both Worlds," a product that serves as both a traditional-looking/behaving wine capsule and a forward-looking/thinking resealable wine bottle closure. The logotype’s color-separated arrows forming the “O” imply this duality of function. As a bonus, it’s bold and simple enough to reproduce quite small on the capsule itself.

Napa Valley 360 Logo

Napa 360 is an online auction and the title suggests that the Napa Valley is not just about wine, its about a complete and varied experience.

Drink Local Wine Logo

Well, we can’t always take credit for every good idea. We’re lucky to have some pretty smart clients. The push pin thing was DLW’s idea, and after trying out a bunch of other concepts, it was pretty clear that this was the simplest, most elegant way to embody “going local” by way of web-based tools. We’ll take credit for the map in the drop shadow, though.

Events

Balzac has extensive expertise at all levels of public meeting/event coordination and execution, from major international wine tastings in the largest cities in the U.S. to small educational seminars in many of the wine-producing regions of the country. Each event is unique and requires intimate knowledge of the subject matter, the target audiences, and the prospective markets.

Event
Planning

Balzac has conceived and managed hundreds of events for clients over our history, so we know all about the little—and big—things that lead to the greatest success. We’ve built relationships with vendors and venues throughout the United States, from small to large and everywhere in between, so we know what particular spaces and elements work best for our clients. We know how to reach the appropriate publics in each area and what to show them to make them remember your company or product.

Through this work, Balzac has built a strong reputation in the food and beverage trade for the caliber of our events—which means the media pay attention when they get an invitation from us.

Menu of Services:

  • Venue search and selection
  • Invitations to our extensive proprietary trade lists
  • Logistic execution before, during, and after the event
  • Managing rentals
  • Liaison with client and their importers/distributors
Our
Events

Strategy

With our communications and design skills, event experience, knowledge of wine and the trade, we shape an approach that is effective, lean and on target for your needs. We identify the key messages, identify the key audiences, and then deliver the messages in a format and via a medium that makes them easy to understand and easy to act on.

We view every public awareness and education campaign as an opportunity to teach our community and the target market more about your product. As any good teacher will tell you, to be successful you must know your subject inside and out. You must gain the attention of the students. And you must provide them the information in a way that encourages them to learn, and to pursue the subject on their own time. We live by these rules.

About Us

Balzac Communications & Marketing is the largest marketing communications firm in the wine industry. Over the past 25 years, it has earned a reputation for working with top quality clients, providing cost-effective solutions, and developing long-term relationships with key influencers across the spectrum, from producers, regional associations, and media to the distribution network, consumers and the general public. These relationships, and the credibility and effectiveness upon which they are based, make Balzac particularly well suited to manage a campaign aimed at these target audiences.

Philosophy

Have fun and get it done.

We know the complete spectrum of what can be done and how to do it. Even more important, we can determine what will make sense for you. Our goal is to make your company more successful, not just use up your budget, and that means we focus on results, not promises.

The ultimate goal is to sell your products or services, and we hope you will judge our efforts by that criterion. We do.

In the long run, your success is our success. We want you to grow so that we can grow, and we want to be working with you five years from now—when we’re both where we want to be.

People

Our people are not the most important part of Balzac. They are Balzac. Period.

They are bright, determined, and experts in our field. From top to bottom, our people know their business and take pride in showing you the kind of results they can achieve.

Mike is a Balzac veteran with more than twenty years of experience building and executing communications strategies for clients in the wine and technology industries. He came west from Michigan to work in the dot-com boom and while he was here became knowledgeable about wine. After leaving Silicon Valley, Mike decided to make wine his career, and ended up at Balzac. Not surprisingly, Mike is Balzac’s digital strategies expert, in addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company, including client management.

“At Balzac we want our clients to feel good about the results of our projects with them,” says Mike, “and just as important, to enjoy participating in the process.”

Mike is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) through the Society of Wine Educators and a WSET Certified Educator through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He is also lead instructor at Discover Wine & Spirits Academy.

Since 2004

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Michael Wangbickler

Chief Executive Officer and Partnermwangbickler@balzac.com

Mike is a Balzac veteran with more than twenty years of experience building and executing communications strategies for clients in the wine and technology industries. He came west from Michigan to work in the dot-com boom and while he was here became knowledgeable about wine. After leaving Silicon Valley, Mike decided to make wine his career, and ended up at Balzac. Not surprisingly, Mike is Balzac’s digital strategies expert, in addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company, including client management.

“At Balzac we want our clients to feel good about the results of our projects with them,” says Mike, “and just as important, to enjoy participating in the process.”

Mike is also a Certified Wine Educator (CWE) through the Society of Wine Educators and a WSET Certified Educator through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. He is also lead instructor at Discover Wine & Spirits Academy.

Since 2004

As the agency founder, Paul is the drive behind Balzac’s uncompromising approach to marketing communications. He has conceived and managed public relations programs for some of the most critical audiences in the world.

“This business combines the intellectual challenges of chess with the reaction speeds of whitewater rafting,” he says. “There are a phenomenal number of possibilities at every step. Our job is to make the right decisions and make those decisions work. We not only have to win the race – we have to look good doing it.”

Paul is also a founding member of the Academy of Wine Communications and a leading member of the American Wine Society. He regularly lectures on wine throughout the world, and was awarded the “Vida Dedicada Al Vino” prize at FENAVIN in 2009. He was honored as a Spadarino della Castellania de Soave in 2005, and his book, co-authored with Liz Thach and Janeen Olsen, won the Gourmand International award as the best wine book for professionals in 2008. He is also an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America and Napa Valley College.

Since 1992

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Paul Wagner

Founder, President and Partnerpwagner@balzac.com

As the agency founder, Paul is the drive behind Balzac’s uncompromising approach to marketing communications. He has conceived and managed public relations programs for some of the most critical audiences in the world.

“This business combines the intellectual challenges of chess with the reaction speeds of whitewater rafting,” he says. “There are a phenomenal number of possibilities at every step. Our job is to make the right decisions and make those decisions work. We not only have to win the race – we have to look good doing it.”

Paul is also a founding member of the Academy of Wine Communications and a leading member of the American Wine Society. He regularly lectures on wine throughout the world, and was awarded the “Vida Dedicada Al Vino” prize at FENAVIN in 2009. He was honored as a Spadarino della Castellania de Soave in 2005, and his book, co-authored with Liz Thach and Janeen Olsen, won the Gourmand International award as the best wine book for professionals in 2008. He is also an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America and Napa Valley College.

Since 1992

Tiffany has one speed: fast forward, and we mean that in a good way. Her clients love her energy and professionalism, and she gets a lot done in a short period of time. She is a strong resource for her team when it comes to client/media relations, strategic counsel and issues management.

“I love brainstorming and dealing with evolving communication plans – adjusting on the fly to the client’s new needs,” she says.

Prior to joining Balzac, Tiffany held supervisory and account lead positions in corporate marketing and communications firms, including Ketchum in San Francisco as the IBM account lead handling all media relations on the West Coast. Other positions were held at Visa, Charles Schwab and Hewlett-Packard.

Since 2004

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Tiffany van Gorder

Senior Account Executivetvangorder@balzac.com

Tiffany has one speed: fast forward, and we mean that in a good way. Her clients love her energy and professionalism, and she gets a lot done in a short period of time. She is a strong resource for her team when it comes to client/media relations, strategic counsel and issues management.

“I love brainstorming and dealing with evolving communication plans – adjusting on the fly to the client’s new needs,” she says.

Prior to joining Balzac, Tiffany held supervisory and account lead positions in corporate marketing and communications firms, including Ketchum in San Francisco as the IBM account lead handling all media relations on the West Coast. Other positions were held at Visa, Charles Schwab and Hewlett-Packard.

Since 2004

With more than twenty-five years of alcoholic beverage experience, ranging from his own craft brewery, Devil Mountain Brewery, to still, sparkling and fortified wines at some of the best-known and most respected domestic and international wineries, Mark adds significant wine and craft beer marketing knowledge to Balzac Communications & Marketing.

As a wine marketing executive he has managed brands for Sebastiani Vineyards, Seagram Chateau Estate & Wines Company, Constellation Wines, White Rocket Wine Company (Kendall-Jackson), Vintage Wine Estates, and most recently, King Estate in Oregon. He has worked from ideation to name generation to package design to marketing, launch and winemaking and production for multiple wine brands both domestic and international, over a range of price points ($5 – $150) and packaging formats (glass, BIB, Tetra Pak).

“Whether you are launching a new brand, revitalizing an existing one or exploring new categories,” says Mark, “I have been in that room. I love to sit down and talk out real-life strategies and then get to work on making it all come true.”

Since 2016

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Mark Feinberg

Senior Account Executivemfeinberg@balzac.com

With more than twenty-five years of alcoholic beverage experience, ranging from his own craft brewery, Devil Mountain Brewery, to still, sparkling and fortified wines at some of the best-known and most respected domestic and international wineries, Mark adds significant wine and craft beer marketing knowledge to Balzac Communications & Marketing.

As a wine marketing executive he has managed brands for Sebastiani Vineyards, Seagram Chateau Estate & Wines Company, Constellation Wines, White Rocket Wine Company (Kendall-Jackson), Vintage Wine Estates, and most recently, King Estate in Oregon. He has worked from ideation to name generation to package design to marketing, launch and winemaking and production for multiple wine brands both domestic and international, over a range of price points ($5 – $150) and packaging formats (glass, BIB, Tetra Pak).

“Whether you are launching a new brand, revitalizing an existing one or exploring new categories,” says Mark, “I have been in that room. I love to sit down and talk out real-life strategies and then get to work on making it all come true.”

Since 2016

After a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Cal Poly SLO, Robin earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. He started layout design while working on newspapers and journals in the old paste-up days, and taught himself how to lay it all out on a Mac Classic after that. “I am one of the original Mac Boys,” he says.

He has moved since on from the Classic to a large, screaming iMac, and is tops at project management from websites to magazines to advertising to logos. He’s also one of the few layout designers who can edit copy on the fly in the middle of layout while making it all fit right. He writes the copy, if needed, takes photographs, and drops it into the project.

“What’s great at Balzac is I get to do a lot of different things, and take advantage of a lot of different interests I have,” says Robin. “I pull it all together to keep our part of the projects running at optimum speed.”

Since 1997

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Robin Lewis

Production Manager/Projects Editorrlewis@balzac.com

After a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Cal Poly SLO, Robin earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. He started layout design while working on newspapers and journals in the old paste-up days, and taught himself how to lay it all out on a Mac Classic after that. “I am one of the original Mac Boys,” he says.

He has moved since on from the Classic to a large, screaming iMac, and is tops at project management from websites to magazines to advertising to logos. He’s also one of the few layout designers who can edit copy on the fly in the middle of layout while making it all fit right. He writes the copy, if needed, takes photographs, and drops it into the project.

“What’s great at Balzac is I get to do a lot of different things, and take advantage of a lot of different interests I have,” says Robin. “I pull it all together to keep our part of the projects running at optimum speed.”

Since 1997

Simply put, Adam makes our design department one of the best in California. His designs for websites (he did ours, for one), wine labels and packaging, logos and other work give Balzac a distinct edge over other agencies.

Adam’s broad education, focused by his studies in graphic design at Santa Rosa College, gives him the ability to combine excellent design with fine art – he’s an illustrator as well as an expert with digital design. It makes his work memorable: striking, effective, and fun. He loves having copywriters right in the next office to keep things moving along. And he knows way too much about TTB requirements for wine labels.

“What makes Balzac fun is our range of resources. We’re able to put ideas to work in very creative and distinctive ways – that’s what gives us the edge over other agencies.”

Please visit the Balzac Communications design portfolio to view his work.

Since 2001

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Adam Sullivan

Visual Designerasullivan2@balzac.com

Simply put, Adam makes our design department one of the best in California. His designs for websites (he did ours, for one), wine labels and packaging, logos and other work give Balzac a distinct edge over other agencies.

Adam’s broad education, focused by his studies in graphic design at Santa Rosa College, gives him the ability to combine excellent design with fine art – he’s an illustrator as well as an expert with digital design. It makes his work memorable: striking, effective, and fun. He loves having copywriters right in the next office to keep things moving along. And he knows way too much about TTB requirements for wine labels.

“What makes Balzac fun is our range of resources. We’re able to put ideas to work in very creative and distinctive ways – that’s what gives us the edge over other agencies.”

Please visit the Balzac Communications design portfolio to view his work.

Since 2001

Start with a degree in literature from U.C. Santa Cruz, and another one from the California Culinary Academy, add twelve years as a professional chef and culinary consultant and season to taste with experience cooking in France and Great Britain. Stir briskly and professionally, and you get Margaret Clark.

She brings that food and wine knowledge to her work here at Balzac as copywriter, proofreader and able protector of the English language and its use in clear expression.

“My job is to make sure our message is communicated quickly, directly and completely,” Margaret says. “Whether you’re cooking, writing, or marketing, the answer to the question is always the same – the details matter.”

Since 1994

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Margaret Clark

Associate, Copy Writer and Editormclark@balzac.com

Start with a degree in literature from U.C. Santa Cruz, and another one from the California Culinary Academy, add twelve years as a professional chef and culinary consultant and season to taste with experience cooking in France and Great Britain. Stir briskly and professionally, and you get Margaret Clark.

She brings that food and wine knowledge to her work here at Balzac as copywriter, proofreader and able protector of the English language and its use in clear expression.

“My job is to make sure our message is communicated quickly, directly and completely,” Margaret says. “Whether you’re cooking, writing, or marketing, the answer to the question is always the same – the details matter.”

Since 1994

Emma’s path to wine expertise was inspired by her Mom’s gourmet meals paired with amazing wines, and then by a semester on a homestay in western Spain. She loved the way people there enjoyed wine, and she loved Spanish culture.

On her return her mother suggested a career in wine rather than political science, which she was finishing at Gettysburg College, and things took off from there: For graduation she received a trip to Napa Valley and the Culinary Institute of America’s Wine Lover’s Boot Camp. While there, Emma landed an internship with famed wine writer Karen MacNeil, whom she assisted in the production of the second edition of The Wine Bible.

A year into her internship, Emma returned to the CIA for the rigorous seven-month Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program, where one of her lecturers was our own Paul Wagner. After passing both the CIA program and the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier exam with flying colors, she followed up with a really impressive job interview at Balzac and was invited to join our staff.

“I feel most wine consumers love wine for the story that goes with it, whether that’s the history of a winery or the memory of how wine became a part of their own lives,” says Emma. “What we do at Balzac plays a big part in helping consumers build that connection.”

Since 2015

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Emma Thomas

Account Executiveethomas@balzac.com

Emma’s path to wine expertise was inspired by her Mom’s gourmet meals paired with amazing wines, and then by a semester on a homestay in western Spain. She loved the way people there enjoyed wine, and she loved Spanish culture.

On her return her mother suggested a career in wine rather than political science, which she was finishing at Gettysburg College, and things took off from there: For graduation she received a trip to Napa Valley and the Culinary Institute of America’s Wine Lover’s Boot Camp. While there, Emma landed an internship with famed wine writer Karen MacNeil, whom she assisted in the production of the second edition of The Wine Bible.

A year into her internship, Emma returned to the CIA for the rigorous seven-month Accelerated Wine and Beverage Program, where one of her lecturers was our own Paul Wagner. After passing both the CIA program and the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Certified Sommelier exam with flying colors, she followed up with a really impressive job interview at Balzac and was invited to join our staff.

“I feel most wine consumers love wine for the story that goes with it, whether that’s the history of a winery or the memory of how wine became a part of their own lives,” says Emma. “What we do at Balzac plays a big part in helping consumers build that connection.”

Since 2015

Paul has been a part of Balzac from the very beginning. At first he was a freelancer we called on for a wide variety of activities; eventually we needed his help all the time, and made him an official part of the family. From client management and design to media contact, Paul does what needs to be done.

Over our 25-year history he has always been resourceful, smart, and enthusiastic, and in some ways we couldn’t live without him. And it helps that he knows how to do it all – his background includes stints at major magazines like Forbes and Motor Trend, and for many years he has volunteered his free time to run the parking for the massive Napa Valley Wine Auction. He does know how to get things done.

At the annual Balzac campout, Paul is in charge of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. He takes the role very seriously.

Since 1992

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Paul Rogers

Associateprogers@balzac.com

Paul has been a part of Balzac from the very beginning. At first he was a freelancer we called on for a wide variety of activities; eventually we needed his help all the time, and made him an official part of the family. From client management and design to media contact, Paul does what needs to be done.

Over our 25-year history he has always been resourceful, smart, and enthusiastic, and in some ways we couldn’t live without him. And it helps that he knows how to do it all – his background includes stints at major magazines like Forbes and Motor Trend, and for many years he has volunteered his free time to run the parking for the massive Napa Valley Wine Auction. He does know how to get things done.

At the annual Balzac campout, Paul is in charge of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. He takes the role very seriously.

Since 1992

At an early age Ema lived with her family in Belgium, and there, with her father’s indefatigable enthusiasm, she began a lifelong exploration of culture, food and wine as an expression and celebration of place.

She brings that appreciation to her work here at Balzac as part of a marketing and public relations team that captures the imagination of wine enthusiasts while achieving our clients’ goals.

Prior to Balzac, Ema worked in marketing and non-profit development for more than fifteen years as a fund raiser, strategic planner and events manager. She also holds an MBA from San Francisco State University, a Wine Business Management Certificate / Level 1 from Sonoma State, and studied sensory wine evaluation at UC Davis.

Since 2016

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Ema Ripley

Account Assistanteripley@balzac.com

At an early age Ema lived with her family in Belgium, and there, with her father’s indefatigable enthusiasm, she began a lifelong exploration of culture, food and wine as an expression and celebration of place.

She brings that appreciation to her work here at Balzac as part of a marketing and public relations team that captures the imagination of wine enthusiasts while achieving our clients’ goals.

Prior to Balzac, Ema worked in marketing and non-profit development for more than fifteen years as a fund raiser, strategic planner and events manager. She also holds an MBA from San Francisco State University, a Wine Business Management Certificate / Level 1 from Sonoma State, and studied sensory wine evaluation at UC Davis.

Since 2016

Every family needs a pet, and Maggie is ours. She is Mark’s six-year-old Labrador and she loves coming to work every day. She bounds into Balzac, races around to the different offices to say hello, and then settles in for the daily grind—on the rug at Mark’s feet. From there, she can see everyone who comes and goes, and greet them as needed. Though her work ethic is questionable (for instance, she sleeps on the job daily), her enthusiasm is contagious and she’s an integral part of the Balzac family.

Since 2016

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Maggie

Every family needs a pet, and Maggie is ours. She is Mark’s six-year-old Labrador and she loves coming to work every day. She bounds into Balzac, races around to the different offices to say hello, and then settles in for the daily grind—on the rug at Mark’s feet. From there, she can see everyone who comes and goes, and greet them as needed. Though her work ethic is questionable (for instance, she sleeps on the job daily), her enthusiasm is contagious and she’s an integral part of the Balzac family.

Since 2016

Clients

BALZAC COMMUNICATIONS CURRENT CLIENTS

International Regional Wine Associations

emilion  Association de Grands Crus Classés de Saint-Emilion (France)

                      camaradealavalogo  Camara de Comercio e Industria de Alava (Spain)

montepulciano2  Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Italy)

furmint  Furmint USA (Hungary)

PrintUnion des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (France)

International Winery Clients

carpeneCarpene Malvolti (Italy)

malarticChâteau Malartic-Lagraviere (France)

gradisciuttaGradis’ciutta (Italy)

salenteinSalentein Family of Brands (Argentina)

sogevinusSogevinus Fine Wines (Portugal)
Kopke, Burmester, Calem, Barros,and Sogevinus Family Wines

villatrasquaVilla Trasqua (Italy)

Domestic Winery Clients

acaiboAcaibo/Trinite Estate (Sonoma)

arcudiArcudi Wines (Napa Valley)

arilAril Wines (Napa Valley)

beaulieuBeaulieu Vineyard (Napa Valley)

experienceExperience Wines  (Napa Valley)

Mendocino Wine Company (Mendocino County)
parducci pauldolan sketchbooklogoPrint

minerlogoMiner Family Winery (Napa Valley)

murrietaswellMurrieta’s Well (Livermore Valley)

oakfarmOak Farm Vineyard (Lodi)

taplinTaplin Cellars (Napa Valley)

noceto_logo_FINAL_loresVino Noceto (Amador County)

Wagner Family of Wine (Napa Valley)

caymus  mersoleilconundrum   emmolo

Arcadia_logo_WWWarren Winiarski (Napa Valley)

WenteLogo.smWente Family Estates (Livermore Valley)

Other Clients

AVF-logoAmerican Vineyard Foundation

cmslogo2 Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas

cialogoThe Culinary Institute of America, St. Helena, CA

etsETS Laboratories

winescholgldWine Scholar Guild

lakecowinegrapeLake County Winegrape Commission

ilfiorelloIl Fiorello Olive Oil

NVG16_CoverNapa Valley Guidebook

puretinPure Tin Capsules

sfwineschoollogoSan Francisco Wine School

sunsetSunset Magazine

texsomTEXSOM

The County of Napa, California
Office of the Agricultural Commissioner of Napa County
Public Information Programs

GWSS-2016_6'x'4'_Banner_OL2PGlassy-Winged Sharpshooter

and

EGVM_button_webEuropean Grapevine Moth

Who Was Balzac?

We chose the name of our agency as a tribute to French novelist Honoré de Balzac. A true character, he was manic and a workaholic, and he drank way too much coffee (up to fifty cups a day). He speculated wildly in several businesses, and he pursued the woman of his dreams for years before finally marrying her, only to die of ill health five months later at age fifty-one.

He was also a remarkable chronicler of his times, and wrote more than eighty novels and sociological studies of post-Napoleonic France, which he called The Human Comedy. Among literature’s outstanding achievements, these works portray the nitty-gritty, real-life loves and disappointments of everyday French people, and because they were written in the form of novels rather than academic papers, they not only come to life for the reader; they have also enshrined the author for posterity.

In some ways, this is what we try to do for our clients: We try to bring their stories to life in a way that goes beyond the simple facts, and create stories and emotional connection with the readers. But we drink way less coffee.

News

The Balzac Blog

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