10 Way to Undermine the Three Tier System of Wine Distribution
THERE IS A WAY.
In response to my recent post on Repealing the State Mandated Three Tier System, I’ve received a number of pessimistic comments and emails that essentially go like this:
“But Tom, what can really be done. The wholesalers and the three-tier system are entrenched and too powerful.”
The State-Mandated Three Tier System and its wholesaler supporters are indeed entrenched and quite powerful. But, there are ways to begin to undermine this system that harms wineries, retailers and consumers. So, as a public service, I thought I’d list the various ways the State Mandated Three Tier System can be undermined by everyone.
1. CONSUMERS: Join the American Wine Consumer Coalition, which works to provide more open markets by advocating for wine consumer rights
2. CONSUMERS: Buy Wine Direct. Buy your wine directly from out-of-state wineries, in-state wineries and out-of-state retailers. Take the money out of the three-tier system as much as you can.
3. WINERIES: Support Free the Grapes, which works across the country to open more states for direct winery to consumer shipping
4. WINERIES: Self Distribute Where You Can. Look for those states that allow self distribution by out-of-state wineries and get to work. Find organizations and companies that help facilitate direct to retail and direct to restaurant sales.
5. WINERIES: Support the Craft Brew and Artisan Distillers with Membership in their Organizations and Associations. They too are looking to break open the three-tier system and they are your allies.
6. RETAILERS: Join the National Association of Wine Retailers, which is a coalition of progressive retailers across the country that works to open more states for retailer-to-consumer direct shipping
7. RETAILERS: Support Self Distributing Producers. If you are in a state that allows self distribution by in-state and/or out-of-state producers of beer, wine and spirits, then do business directly with them and avoid wholesalers where you can. Take the money out of the system
8. WINERIES: Make Wholesalers Pay. Before signing up with a new wholesaler in a state, require that they make a financial contribution to Free The Grapes or the American Wine Consumer Coalition if they want your business so badly.
9. CONSUMERS. Make the Purchase Anyway. If you live in a state that prohibits shipment from out-of-state wineries and retailers, place the order with out-of-state wineries and retailers anyway. They may just find a way to ship you the wine you want and you take money out of the three-tier system.
10. RETAILERS: Ask Your Representative for Help. It’s simple. If you live in a state that won’t allow direct to consumer shipment from out-of-state retailers, call your representative and ask them to support a change in the law to allow your customers to buy the wines you don’t carry. It will make a difference.