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Bag That Hangover

San Francisco-based wine producer Cameron Hughes recently sponsored a booth at the Aspen Food and Wine Festival, a not-to-be-missed annual event for foodies, wine and culinary celebrities and industry leaders, held high up in the Rockies.

“It was the first time we attended the festival,” says Jessica Hughes, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Cameron Hughes. This year marked the company’s 10th anniversary as well as the 30th anniversary of the Aspen festival.

“We offered festival guests 12 different wines from around the world. Since we source wines globally, the wines hailed from Bordeaux to Napa, all under the Cameron Hughes label,” she says. “We are little people, and we wanted to have the greatest presence possible there.”

Wine trade tasting events are very intense; sometimes there can be 1,000 wines under one tent, Hughes notes, adding, “If we didn’t spit, we wouldn’t be able to get through the first hour.” Also, it’s easy to get inebriated more quickly in a location like Aspen due to its high elevation and lower oxygen levels. “You can get a ferocious hangover if you’re not careful,” says Hughes.

To combat the perils of tasting at high elevation, Cameron Hughes created a “wine-tasting survival kit” to promote its brand to event VIPs. The reusable red pouch, bearing the name of the winery and its website address, included such essentials as Aleve, teeth whitening strips, Emergen-C vitamins, breath mints, Blistex and Wet Ones.

The items were carefully thought out. For example, Blistex soothes the inevitable chapped lips that result from tasting red wine. Alka Seltzer helps tackle the acidity of wine tannins that can cause an upset stomach, and Emergen-C provides a vitamin infusion. “In the wine industry, we all take Aleve with Emergen-C in the evening, combined with a big glass of water. This guarantees no hangover,” Hughes says.

The versatile pouch had a hook and eye to attach to belt loops, and was small enough to fit into a back pocket. It also had a zipper piece that allowed it to be hung from a lanyard, worn by many attendees at the festival for identification. The pouch also contained a slit for credit cards and a license, and could be used as a wallet.

It was the first time the wine merchant had ever done a giveaway like this, and Hughes wanted the kit to be “smart, innovative and well thought out.” Cameron Hughes distributed 450 pouches to industry VIPs, and an additional 4,500 Chapsticks were distributed in the event’s registration bags, as well as at its booth. “People loved the pouches,” Hughes says. “Some said it was ‘genius,’ and the Chapsticks were also hugely popular.”

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