Questioning the Silence of the Wine Consumer
Yesterday, the right question was asked by Frank Cagle in the context of the political battle in Tennessee over whether or not to allow wine in grocery stores. Frank asked:
There is a good answer to that question: They don’t have a voice.
It doesn’t matter what the question is. Winery Shipping. Wine Retailer Shipping. Wine in Grocery stores. Whenever these questions are asked, it’s the wineries, retailers, wholesalers and regulators that have the ear of lawmakers simply because there is no voice of the wine consumer. They have no representation.
And in those rare instances when consumers are asked what they want, such as in Washington where spirit sales were privatized by the vote of the citizens, you’ve got wholesalers claiming the process was manipulated, as though consumers are too stupid to understand the stakes.
No matter what they say, the institutional interests within the wine, beer and spirits industry don’t represent the interests of consumers. And they never will. When wineries seek to open states for direct shipping, it’s in the interests of wineries, not consumers. When retailers seek the same right to ship wine, its in the interests of retailer. When wholesalers try to stop all reforms to the archaic and anti-competitive three-tier system, it’s in the interests of wholesalers.
In Tennessee, the liquor trade has fought tooth and nail to assure consumers don’t get what they want. Now they are fighting to stop the possibility of even voting to determine if local areas and cities can vote to have local grocery stores sell wine. It’s a farce that is still being played out because there is no loud, responsible and consistent voice of the wine consumer.
That silence needs to end.