Cover Story - Nov. 2005

The Spirit of California ™

By: Meridith May

Born from California vineyards, Roth is the pedigreed name for a new breed of vodka that is crafted for people who know and demand fine wine and luxury spirits.  The world’s most expensive vodka to make, Roth is 100% distilled from California vinifera wine grapes – a blend of more than six different varietals, both red and white.  Once fermented, Roth is five times column distilled for the ultimate clean, fresh, smooth palate.  The structure from the grape’s natural acidity gives it the body to stand up to a diversity of fruits, as well as more traditional mixers. Its texture and body are just a few of the essential differences in style that distinguish Roth from its competitors.
A new favorite of some of the state’s hottest sommeliers, several Master Sommeliers among them, Roth has also been embraced by California’s most preeminent wine directors and restaurateurs. “I love its stately traditional bottle,” noted Caroline Styne, owner of Los Angeles-based restaurants Lucques and A.O.C. “The relationship to California’s wine country is a brilliant tie-in to the first vodka made exclusively from grape varietals in our home state. How fun to have something excitingly new that is also so out of the ordinary. If you’re asking for a “California” martini, the vodka has to be Roth.”

At Lucques in West Hollywood, the Roth Peach Martini, the “California Peach,” is one in a series of California’s bounty of fresh fruit that marries with the vodka’s foundation of California winegrapes. Fat, juicy peaches are hand-selected from local farmer’s markets, as are persimmons, plums and briskly tart apples. (Photo by Dana Maione)

The Roth Plan
The creative force behind the brand imagery and promotional campaigns for Roth Vodka is Paige Poulos, the savvy marketing and public relations president of her own eponymous agency, Paige Poulos Communications.
Patterson’s met with Paige to ask the pertinent questions about the brand and the thought processes behind its prominent launch. “Roth is one of the few new spirits to be launched with not just one, but several campaigns, each with elements designed to appeal to the diverse audiences attracted to luxury spirits,” Poulos affirmed. “Roth marketing includes a rich blend of refined wine country imagery on the web site, the endorsement of some of California’s hottest sommeliers – several of them Master Sommeliers – in ads, on the web site and on collateral.”
Poulos also noted that an element of sophisticated humor will further enhance this brand as one that stands apart from the crowd. “We turned to the brilliant wit and humor of Pulitzer-prize-winning cartoonist Paul Szep, whose illustrations will appear over time, in ads and on cocktail napkins as well as on clever collateral,” she said.
Appealing to those of us who are enraptured by wine and whose sincere affection for the beloved California grape surpasses any other fruit, Roth emerges on the spirits scene with panache and…great timing.
“Roth is a brand that has captured everyone’s imagination from the beginning,” Poulos pointed out. There is just some energy about it that makes you want to try it – to get involved – and then, one sip, and you’re hooked. At the end of the day, Roth is simply delicious.”

Roth is More than a (California) State of Mind
The Roth packaging is stately and traditional. The frosted bottle with the red tin capsule bears the ancient Roth family crest that imparts a certain elegance. “First, we wanted a package that would capture attention at retail and on the backbar,” explained Poulos, “something powerful and memorable.” 

Easily spotted across a room, Roth Vodka’s distinctive shape and unprecedented liquid is directed towards a lifestyle. “ ‘The Spirit of California’ slogan defines the Roth lifestyle element.  And because we made this vodka for wine connoisseurs, we are in fact ‘The Wine Lover’s Vodka,’” said Poulos.  “We know that many people enjoy a martini before dinner or out on the town. Even better, the discerning drinker may turn to the expertise of a sommelier for advice.”
It was that concept that lit the lightbulb in a brilliant merging of sommeliers with the brand. “We wanted the most educated palates in California to be the first to know about Roth – even before it went to market,” said Poulos on an enthusiastic note. “This led to many tastings with wine aficionados we trust in the product development phase.”

Roth’s Philosophy of Giving Back
 “At Roth, we believe that every brand has the responsibility to give back to the community,” Poulos pointed out. “Not just token support, but ties to education and charity that are an inherent part of a brand’s culture. For us, wine lovers all, we saw in Roth the opportunity to further wine education, and our chosen philanthropy is the Education Foundation of the Guild of Master Sommeliers. We hope that one day our contributions will form a major part of the underwriting of a Guild home in San Francisco and help provide scholarships for people studying to pass the Master Sommelier exams.”

A new favorite of some of the state’s hottest sommeliers, several Master Sommeliers among them, Roth has also been embraced by California’s most preeminent wine directors and restaurateurs. (left to right) Nicole Burke; Larry Stone, MS,; Rajat Parr; Rom Toulon; Matthew Turner; Shelley Lindgren; Fred Dame, MS (all in San Francisco); Paul Roberts, MS (Yountville), Caroline Styne (Hollywood) (Photo by Thomas Heinser)

*California’s first luxury vodka
*A proprietary blend of the finest California winegrapes are the foundation for Roth
*Five Times Column Distilled for ultimate white spirit quality
*Charcoal Filtered
*Cork Finished
*Launched in California exclusively this year

Roth is unique in its distillation from 100% California wine grapes; distilled five times for the ultimate in clarity and purity. It is truly the “Wine Lover’s Vodka.” The market is going to discover that wine grapes deliver a very special vodka, and Roth’s proprietary blend of several red and white varietals is a point of difference from other grape vodkas. “Those who have avoided spirits due to grain allergies can now enjoy a luxury martini – something they couldn’t think of before Roth came on the market,” said Poulos.  “Roth is a pure product of California. From the wine grapes that are its heart and soul, to the lifestyle that it complements, everything about it is founded in California. That’s what makes it truly the ‘Spirit of California.’”

Roth Vodka has quickly been adopted by the top “noses” in the industry, and Caroline Styne, owner of two high profile restaurants in Southern California – Lucques and A.O.C. – has seized the opportunity to not only support the brand, but create signature drinks around it. (Photo by Dana Maione)

Lucques Be a Lady
The Style of Caroline Styne
Caroline Styne was initiated into the restaurant industry in the early ‘90s when she managed Jones Hollywood. Her four-year stint at the area’s No.1 rock and roll eatery and club engaged her palate with her managerial skills.
“The G.M. at the time featured a small California wine list,” explained Styne. “He allowed me to taste along with him and we discovered I had a palate. They called me “the nose!”
Styne began selecting the wines for Jones and by the time she left in 1997, harbored some dreams about opening her own place.
Concurrently, Suzanne Goin, a back-of-the-house talent who mentored under Alice Waters as a sous chef, had her own visions about opening a restaurant, and the two were soon matched up by an intuitive mutual friend. It took the duo “forever” to find the right spot, but the small, freestanding house-like establishment that is now Lucques was perfect, and the pair opened their place in 1998.
“My friend George Cosette, formerly of Campanile, helped with our first tiny, 30-wine list, but I soon realized that I would be the one to head up that task.”
Styne jumped into the fray and now – seven years later - that list supports over 300 labels.
Caroline Styne’s approachable nature and her warm reception to guests, suppliers and distributors gave reason to liken Lucques to its homey – if not upscale - atmosphere. “I love the people I work with in the industry, and I have developed many friendships with them: it’s that common ‘thing’ we all have about great wine.”
In 2002, Styne and Goin opened A.O.C., a wine and appetizers bar, offering 50 wines by the glass. The intriguing dining destination has recently been voted the No.1 most popular restaurant in the Zagat Guide, a wonderful testament to its cuisine, but even more to a following of lovers of great wine.

“Roth is a pure product of California. From the wine grapes that are its heart and soul, to the lifestyle that it complements, everything about it is founded in California.”


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