When it comes to Sturgis, many people think of bikes, bikers, babes — and beer.
But in the latest evolution of the annual cycle rally, there’s a new official beverage in town: wine.
As a sponsor of the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally, Josh Cellars winery officials say they are looking to buck the stereotype and break conventions when it comes to “who enjoys wine.”
The Sturgis motorcycle rally has had official wines of the event in the past, such as that made by Vermillion-based Valiant Vineyards in 2008 and distributed by Tom Monahan and the Sturgis Wine Company, but Josh Cellars is dubbing itself as the first wine brand to sponsor the event in its 77-year history.
Josh Cellars representatives were corralling rallygoers at local bars and rally events, and asking them to taste the wine.
Mike Woody and Darcy Soltys of Lincoln, Neb., were approached by Josh Cellars folks at the bar at the Harley-Davidson experience near the Sturgis Community Center.
“I think it’s amazing,” Woody said of the Josh Cellars’ Rose he sipped from a plastic cup. “It’s very light, a perfect mid-day drink.”
His girlfriend, Darcy Soltys, said the wine was “refreshing.”
“It’s not too sweet. It has a very cool, open flavor,” she said.
Soltys said she typically drinks chardonnay, but said she liked the Josh Cellars Rose’ better because it was lighter.
The wine is served chilled at a cool 39 degrees.
Jack Glasure said that within 48 hours of being in Sturgis, they realized they had made the right decision to sign on as a sponsor.
“The appreciation, not just from women, but men also, has been great,” Glasure said.
Glasure said Josh Cellars officials discovered that their key sales demographic paralleled that of the Sturgis rallygoers, so he made a call to sign on.
“I think they were surprised when we called, but they have certainly been pleased since we arrived,” Glasure said of Sturgis city officials. “We looked at the market and knew that this demographic would be a good fit.”
Renato Reyes, chief marketing officer for Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, parent company of Josh Cellars, said it made sense to be the first wine brand to participate in Sturgis in a sponsor capacity.
“The average motorcycle owner at Sturgis is affluent, educated and we know they love great wine,” Reyes said. “We respect that they have a choice about which wines they drink and we want Josh to be the brand they reach for.”
Sturgis Rally & Events Director Jerry Cole said it’s about time a wine brand recognized what a great opportunity it is to get in front of more than half a million bikers.
“People think we’re all tattoos and leather, but there is a lot more to us than that. We appreciate great wine just like everyone else,” he said. “Josh is the perfect brand to take this first ride with us. I love the brand’s roots, values and all-American success story.”
Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie said the average rallygoer has a household income of about $ 85,0000, is in their 50’s, and enjoys numerous outdoor leisure activities such as riding motorcycles, camping and hunting.
“They are appreciative of the arts and truly are foodies,” he said.
Josh Cellars will host 10 separate wine tasting events at Sturgis. It began Friday with the opening ceremony. They will also be on hand for the 15th annual Mayor’s Ride today and at Military Appreciation Day festivities on Tuesday. They are also serving the wine at the VIP building for rally sponsors and visitors. The product is available at the Sturgis Liquors store and bars around town.