Coming up roses for Ben
From “Bachelorette” to “Bachelor,” Ben Flajnik strikes marketing gold (From the Fall 2011 issue of SONOMA)
Bachelor Ben, and partners Danny Fay and Mike Benziger show off their wine.
Sure, Ben Flajnik didn’t get that final red rose when he got down on his knees in front of Ashley Hebert and a few million of his closest fans on the seventh season of The Bachelorette.
And yes, that was an angry obscenity that burst from his still-boyish lips as he stalked away stunned from the reality TV love match he thought was to be his.
With his big, brown, puppy-dog eyes and curly rock star locks, Ben quickly rose to the top of the 24 hopefuls vying for Ashley’s heart. He made it to the final episode before the young brunette, who says “babe” way too much, rejected his proposal, accepting instead a sparkly diamond from JP, a New York construction manager.
“I don’t know what the f--- just happened there,” he said after being turned down. “I thought I was in love. Maybe I was wrong about that too.”
But while the young Sonoma winemaker may have lost true TV love, he seems to have found something better: a national spotlight for his Evolve brand wines.
Heartbreak ultimately looks good on Ben, at least when it comes to business. Demand for his 2010 sauvignon blanc has gone through the roof. That’s the same wine he handed Hebert on their first meeting, which earned an 89 from Wine Spectator. (The sauvignon blanc, not Hebert).
Ben launched Evolve in 2008 with his childhood friend Mike Benziger, producing biodynamic wines at Glen Ellen’s Benziger Family Winery. Last year the duo brought in another childhood friend, Danny Fay, a graduate of the lofty Bordeaux Ecole de Management in France.
“I’m lucky ‘cause I make great wine with great friends,” Ben says.
And soon, the men of Evolve will be producing even more wines. Riding the wave of attention that followed the reality TV show, the partners are boosting production from 1,000 cases to 2,400 to satisfy their many (mostly female) fans.
“We have a good problem of trying to meet the demand,” Ben says.
The young winemakers are also launching a value brand called Epilogue, beginning with a chardonnay and a red blend, which will be marketed in the $9.99 to $13.99 range in the “high consumption” states of California, New York, Texas and Colorado.
Ben’s love life has already bounced back. First, he reportedly captured the attention of starlet Jennifer Love Hewitt, who a gossip magazine said flew to San Francisco to meet the winemaking hunk. And he’ll have 25 sexy singles vying for his attention. ABC recently confirmed that Ben will star on the upcoming season of The Bachelor, and NZK Productions, which produces the dating show, has already pulled filming permits in the City of Sonoma to film a “cast member in their hometown.” Hmmm, we’ll keep our eye on that.
Seems everything is coming up roses after all.
From the Fall 2011 issue of SONOMA