Despite nearly universal agreement that ultra‐premium California wines have reached a quality level which is on a par with the world's best, these wines have not captured the hearts and minds of many traditional buyers of the best wines in the international marketplace. These California wines face several competitive disadvantages — the lack of a sustained track record over a long period of time; comparatively small production levels; the lack of an established pecking order; and, a less‐than‐optimal distribution system, among other factors. As a result, brand equity of California ultra‐premium wines has suffered. This paper modifies and extends the paradigms of both Aaker and Keller by specifying a brand equity model that captures the dimensions of brand equity for ultra‐premium California wine producers. Evaluating current marketing practice against the derived model, the authors suggest marketing strategies and tactics that may permit ultra‐premium California wines to overcome many of their competitive disadvantages with the objective of enhancing brand equity.
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