Thursday, September 15, 2022

Introducing Pittsburgh Steelers Wine

It is a tough time to be the owner of an NFL team. Sure, the league signed television contracts with Amazon, CBS, ABC/ESPN, NBC, and FOX through the 2023 season for $113 billion, but $113 billion doesn’t go as far as it used to. And yeah, teams continue to make money through ticket sales, sponsorships, and merchandise sales, but the cost of running a team is exorbitant. So during this time of high inflation, teams are looking for new revenue streams just to make ends meet. For the Steelers, I guess the contract to name the stadium Acrisure wasn't enough, so the team announced the launch of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ new wine brand and club, Steel Curtain Napa Valley.

The text above is an introductory message on the Steel Curtain Napa Valley website. When I hear someone discussing “blue-collar grit that is forged in the fiber of the Steel City,” clearly the first thing I think about is “Immaculate,” a red wine selling for $95 a bottle (or $75 for members) made in Napa Valley. For those of you not familiar with American geography, I should probably mention that Napa Valley isn’t part of the Mon Valley.

The website also includes messages from the Steelers organization and the winery:

While I’m not a sommelier or someone who plays one on the internet, I’d love for Ryan Huzjak or anyone else to explain how this wine brand reflects Pittsburgh and the Steelers. You can make a case that Iron City beer represents Pittsburgh or look in a history book to see where the Whiskey Rebellion took place (Spoiler: Western Pennsylvania), but a wine?

I appreciate wine handcrafted with the same values forged in the fibers of Pittsburgh, though I’d prefer wine forged from grapes.

Look, a wine company partnering with the Steelers makes sense. For the winery, you get a loyal, established, and enthusiastic following and access to the team’s logo and marketing capabilities. (I learned of Steel Curtain Napa Valley through an email from the team.) Meanwhile, I’m sure that the Steelers will make money from this venture simply by having its name associated with the product. However, the blue-color grit and wine brand reflecting Pittsburgh is ridiculous. Just say that you’re selling wine to Steelers fans.

Update: @LloydStoleFirst on Twitter mentioned that the Pittsburgh Penguins have their own wine partnership. The website layouts are identical, but while the marketing for the Steelers wine is about blue-collar grit and a wine reflecting Pittsburgh, these are absent for the Penguins brand. Apparently, there is no overlap between the two fan bases.

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