Q&A with Low- & No-Alcohol Category Winner Heidi Scheid of Sunny with a Chance of Flowers

Jul 29, 2021
Washington, D.C.

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers, produced by Scheid Family Wines, was named the Low- & No-Alcohol Category Winner of WSWA’s 2021 Brand Battle. Sunny with a Chance of Flowers is based in Monterey County, California and is a family-owned brand. This low-alcohol, zero sugar and fewer calorie wine was created with those living an active and healthy lifestyle in mind.


Sunny with a Chance of Flowers will represent the Low- & No-Alcohol category and compete for the Brand Battle Championship on September 14.


To learn more about Sunny wines, Michael Bilello, WSWA’s Senior Vice President of communications and marketing, as well as WSWA Access craft program manager, talked with Heidi Scheid, Executive Vice President of Scheid Family Wines.


Michael Bilello: Sunny with a Chance of Flowers was created for consumers who want to live an optimistic and healthy lifestyle. Can you tell us how the brand came to be?


Heidi Scheid: We started working on a low-alcohol wine separate from working on Sunny with a Chance of Flowers. It wasn't until about six months into the process that we merged the two. We loved Sunny with a Chance of Flowers brand concept. We loved the positivity and great messaging, and we felt like there were so many ways that we can run with Sunny with a Chance of Flowers, so it started to feel logical that the two should be combined. Initially, it was the very beginning of COVID and, at first, people were drinking more and then they started to become more wellness oriented. That was when we decided that that mental health aspect—seeing the glass as half full—and positivity would fit in extremely well with a wine that was geared toward this active and healthy lifestyle. I've worked on a lot of different brands, but this is the most fun I have ever had by a long shot while working on a brand because I have a great team and it just makes all of us smile.


MB: Many consumers are looking for healthier options. What is the demographics of your consumer base? Has it been what you expected when you first dreamed up a low-alcohol wine?


HS: Personally, I was looking for a low-alcohol wine. As we age, we realize wine is not as easy to drink on a weeknight. I would have a couple glasses of wine and not feel like lacing up my running shoes at 5:30 am the next morning. Now, I drink Sunny very regularly and it's kind of my go to weekday wine. Even though we launched Sunny thinking it was going to have this great millennial focus—and it does because of the digital space—but people of my generation are absolutely looking for something that is lower-alcohol, zero sugar, fewer calories. They can enjoy wine while taking care of their health and wellness.


MB: You mentioned the digital aspect of Sunny. This brand has a large social media presence and your approach to these platforms seems very organic and genuine. Can you talk about the digital marketing and social media aspect of this brand?


HS: The social media is a joy to put together! We get really great interactions from followers and we're working with different influencers who are happy to be representing the brand and talking about it to their followers. We've seen just tremendous engagement.


Digital marketing and social media is great way to grow a brand—it's great because we’re getting that engagement. We want the wine to end up in your cart, but in store you don’t necessarily get visibility to that on an everyday basis. With social media, you get visibility 24/7 and you’re able to talk to potential consumers and with people who are drinking it and enjoying it. It really is an authentic brand because it means a tremendous amount to me personally.


MB: This brand is focused on sustainability. Tell us about your mission to not only deliver great products, to be transparent with your labeling, but to also be socially responsible.


HS: I've been in this industry for 29 years. My father started our company in 1972, almost 50 years ago. Sustainability is one of our core values, so we are constantly looking for ways to improve our methods. Our wineries are 100% powered by wind, almost half of our vineyard acreage is farmed organically and our grapes are grown responsibly.


We’re 100% sustainably certified under CSWA. We’re BRC certified, which is the British Retail Consortium, the highest level of food safety standards in the world. As I mentioned, we installed a wind turbine in 2017 that powers 100% of our winery campus, plus provides enough power for an additional 125 homes.


We also make sure we're taking care of our employees, our other stakeholders, our vendors, and our distributors. We’re a family-owned business and we have roots in our community. We’ve been doing business in Monterey County for 50 years, but when you’re out on a national landscape, it’s important to tell that story to consumers so that they understand there are real people behind this brand. They're not just making it, but they're living it, they're drinking it, they’re enjoying it with family and friends. It's the real deal.


MB: What do you enjoy about being in this industry and starting a new brand? What have been some challenges?


HS: Well, during these last 18 months everything has been challenging. We’ve been making wine for a while, but the challenge from a business point of view is just putting ourselves out onto the national brand stage. That's a new place for us. We started making wine under our own brands about 10 years ago, but primarily exclusive brands. Sunny is really a wonderful opportunity for us and is something that's important to every single person who works at our company. This is our opportunity to be on the national brand stage.


Being in this business where we get to produce the world's greatest product. Wine has been around for thousands of years. It's a privilege to get to produce wine and to get to enjoy wine…It's an extraordinary product and our company really believes that – it’s part of our ethos. We're very proud of what we do; we're proud of how we farm; we’re proud of how we produce our wines; and we’re proud of how we work with all our stakeholders. And we're all having a heck of a lot of fun doing it!


MB: Tell us about your preparation for Brand Battle. What do you believe are key elements of a good pitch?


HS: Brand Battle came onto my radar screen a couple of years ago, but we didn't really have the right brand to submit, so this is the first time that I felt like we had a brand that we could enter. I had no idea exactly what was going to happen, so when we were selected, the whole company was really excited.


For a good pitch, I think about what I would want to know if I was buyer. I’d want to know about your brand attributes, how the product is made, what’s special about it, that it tastes good (and if they aren’t tasting it, include your scores or awards), what it costs, and summarize what the brand propositions are.


MB: The judges gave you great, constructive feedback. I'm sure it validated some things for you as a business owner and a brand developer. What feedback from the judges stood out the most to you?


HS: The best thing was the fact that they said it was delicious! We know how to make great wine, we’ve been doing it for a very long time. And for most of the wines, we control everything from grapes to glass. But making a low alcohol wine is entirely different because you're taking out two things that are really important to making wine taste great: Alcohol and sugar. To take that away from your winemaking toolbox creates a big challenge, so the fact that the judges said that our wine was delicious—I think one judge said it was the best better for you wine he’s tasted—just made my heart sing. And that's really a testament to our vineyard team and to our winemaking team.