Three thoughts come to mind upon hearing the word Yosemite: a mustached cartoon character, my childhood home and the place where I almost died.
If you grew up watching Looney Tunes cartoons, Yosemite Sam is easy enough explain. I grew in a house located on Yosemite Street (FYI - my porn star name would be Pepper Yosemite). And finally, I am reminded of the time I almost died on an 8th grade class camping trip to Yosemite National Park. We were there in the dead of winter which meant lots of snow, something I nor my parents from Fiji had ever experienced hence our ill-fated choice to pack rain boots instead of proper snow boots. During a hike in the mountains, I lost my footing on an icy sludge covered trail and came dangerously close to falling off the edge of a cliff. That's when my friend Christina Ferrante came chasing after me, grabbed my arms and saved my life. So there you have it, when you say Yosemite, I think of: a gun wielding cartoon character, the source of my porn star name and how I learned the importance of proper snow boots.
And now, courtesy of 7-Eleven, you can add wine to that list as well. This past Tuesday, the convenience store chain announced their plans to launch their very own line of wines that will be marketed and sold under the brand name Yosemite Road. Two flavors will be offered at approximately $4 a bottle, a "fresh and zesty" Chardonnay "with notes of apricot, peach and honey," and a "full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with juicy plum overtones". The wines will be released in 15,000 outlets, including 7-Eleven stores in the U.S. and Japan, as well as other subsidiaries of parent company Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd., an $87.9 billion Tokyo-based corporation.
The decision to use the Yosemite Road brand vs the company name is a smart one since it doesn't immediately connect the buyer to a 7-Eleven. I mean, how many of us would show up to a dinner party with a bottle of wine marked with a 7-Eleven logo? At least, how many of us would do it without trying to be funny or ironic on purpose? That would be klassy with a circle k.
I will say that my initial reaction to the idea of 7-Eleven wines was great - I finally know what wine to pair with Funyuns. But all kidding aside, are consumers going to take 7-Eleven wines seriously? I'm not a fan of Two Buck Chuck but it's certainly been a huge hit for Trader Joe's and I certainly understand the reason for the popularity. Many people have come to rely upon Trader Joe's to seek out quality, esoteric grocery items so it's only natural they would trust "Trader Joe" to pick out some wines for them as well. The same could be said about places such as Costco or Whole Foods. What kind of wine is to be expected from a place that is synonymous with slushie drinks and Slim Jims?
The company did announce that the wines will be offered for a limited time only. My guess is they are testing the waters to see if they get a big bite (hee hee) from consumers. If they are successful, I'm sure we can expect similar moves from other big name companies in the food service world. White Hen Pinot Grigio, anyone?