California Cooler is a brand of alcoholic beverage.
Although sangria has existed since wine has been made, this formula and packaging was the first to be known as a Wine Cooler. The product was essentially a sangria packaged in a 12 oz. beer bottle. Originally named Monterey Cooler, the California Cooler package was re-designed by Glenn Martinez and Assoc. The California Cooler eventually was also sold in a 2-liter bottle.
The original California Cooler exploded on the beverage market after its founding in 1981, when Lodi High School friends, Michael Crete and R. Stuart Bewley, and their original partners (mostly friends and family) raised $140,000 to begin commercial production. By 1985, it was selling a reported 12.3 million cases a year worth $125 million. In 1985, Crete and Bewley sold the company to liquor giant Brown-Forman Inc. in a deal valued at up to $146 million. Brown Forman were national distributors of wine and spirits brands such as Jack Daniels and Korbel Sparkling wines.
Soon competition from wine maker giants E&J Gallo Winery who started strong marketing of its Bartles & Jaymes coolers and Seagram's own brand of wine coolers, California Cooler's market share began to slide. The cooler craze of the mid-eighties was celebrated with an Ad campaign by Chiat Day "The Chairman" featuring beach life scenes. Bartles & Jaymes, the second entrant into the wine cooler marketplace quickly came took market share. Their ad campaign featured two actors playing the fictitious Frank Bartles and Ed Jaymes "Bartles and Jaymes" saying "thank you for trying our product".
Overall wine-cooler sales dropped 12 percent in 1988 from 1987. California Cooler volume had dropped to 5 million cases, less than one-third of what Seagram's and Gallo each were moving.
On 30 March 2007, Majestic Brands, a Danville beverage company, announced plans to try to revive the California Cooler brand.