‘Bachelorette’ rejection doesn’t slow down Sonoma winemaker Ben Flajnik
By CATHY BUSSEWITZ
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma’s bachelor Ben Flajnik may have faced rejection from The Bachelorette’s Ashley Hebert on national television Monday night, but the day after he was back at work on his increasingly popular wine brand.
Speaking from San Francisco, Flajnik said Evolve Winery, based in Sonoma Valley, is working on launching a new brand of value wines called “Epilogue,” which will be ready for sale in September. But he also now just may be Northern California’s most eligible bachelor.
With his newly revealed single status, Flajnik said he has been receiving a lot of attention from single ladies.
“There have been quite a few submissions to the Evolve Winery website”” Flajnik said. “I think I have thousands of emails, but I haven’t looked at them.”
Flajnik also said he hasn’t been paying much attention to his growing chorus of online admirers.
“The whole reason I’ve been able to maintain a level head is I don’t read the blogs, I don’t read Twitter,” Flajnik said. “That’s the best way I’m going to stay the same through this.”
Concentrating on work also helps.
“We’ve had a lot of exposure due to the show, and we wanted to expand into a different price bracket,” Flajnik said. “We wanted to be able to reach more consumers.”
On Evolve’s website, the 2009 and 2010 Sauvignon Blancs were priced at $19.99 a bottle, and the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon was marked $29.99 on Tuesday.
The new wines they’re producing, a Chardonnay and a red blend, will be priced between $9.99 and $13.99, Flajnik said. They plan to sell the new product in select markets in California, New York, Texas and Chicago.
“What we always try to do with our wines is over-deliver on product and not on price,” Flajnik said.
Flajnik said the Evolve wines are selling much faster than they did before the show, though he declined to reveal sales figures.
Sales of Evolve wines at Valley Wine Shack in Sonoma have grown by 25 to 30 percent since the show aired, said shop owner Wendy Smith. Smith said she’s not one to watch a lot of television, let alone shows like “The Bachelorette.” She said they’ve been selling the wine just because it’s good.
“We looked at each other and said, why is Evolve selling so much recently?” Smith said. “And then we found out a couple weeks later he was on a TV show.”
In a few weeks’ time, the Valley Wine Shack may get another dose of Bachelorette fan fever when it hosts a tasting of Evolve wines on Aug. 24 from 6-8 p.m. Smith said she expects Flajnik to attend and is considering bringing in some “big guy friends” to act as bouncers at the door of the small shop.
“Someone’s going to see it and post it on Facebook, and that’s going to be the end of the day,” Smith said.
But if Flajnik is picked as the lead for the next season of “The Bachelor,” which has occurred in past seasons for finalists, then who knows if he will be there for the tasting. While Hebert and Bachelorette winner J.P. Rosenbaum were doing cuddly interviews on “Good Morning America” Tuesday, Flajnik was declining to speak about his future plans.
Still the fans will come. Benziger Family Winery, where Flajnik and partners Mike Benziger and Danny Fay bottle their Evolve wines, has been aflutter with fans, said Paul Moran in the tasting room.
“Certainly up to the finale, we were seeing people come in every day, saying ‘Can we see Ben?’” Moran said. “More bodies equals more sales, so that had a positive effect for us.”
Moran said it was weird to watch his friend on national television, but said the show’s portrayal of Flajnik as a sensitive guy with a good sense of humor was exactly right.
“It’s her loss,” Moran said about Hebert. “He’s a great guy, but he can do better.”