A Good Cry & Rhetorical Questions

"If a small winery has a market, why on Earth would a wholesaler
not want to sell your wine?"

VP Communications, Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association

I usually don’t get offended by PR people are lambasted or ridiculed. But sometimes, my own people embarass me so much I just want to cry. Thanks for giving me a good cry Ms. Gravois Elliot.


The Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association support a proposal in Virginia that would close off Virginia wineries’ ability to sell direct to retailers and restaurants. If these circumstances come to pass, how would a new winery build a market that would attract the attention of a wholesaler?

I know…Rhetorical Question.

The fact that this didn’t occur to Ms Gravois-Elliot only demonstrates the utmost arrogance of the national wine wholesaler organization. She is support a change in Virginia’s legal system that would make it practically impossible for a new, small winery to open shop unless it had the blessing and the patronage of a wholesaler. Now what are the chances of a wholesaler in Virginia getting excited about a new 1000 case producer in Virginia?  I know, I know…Another rhetorical question.

I was wondering how long it would take the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers to weigh in on the idea of self-distribution. They had been conspicuously absent from the debate. I suspect that’s partially be cause they took a schlacking on the Direct Shipping issue at the Supreme Court level.

In defending the monopoly of the wine wholesalers, Ms. Gravois-Elliot went on to tell a reporter at the Daily Progress in Virginia:

"You can thank
the American alcohol distributor for opening up American markets to
wines from across the country. Wholesalers are the typical small business."


Of course the VP of Communications at the national wine wholesalers association knows that the only reason wholesalers had any role in bringing wine to the American market is because they were the only ones allowed to….by law. I think it is entirely possible that had there been no government mandated system by which most alcohol went through the hands of wholesalers America would be far more advanced wine drinkers than they are now.

It’s important to remind ourselves who and what most wine wholesalers are what they do:

1. 99.9% of all alcohol that ends up in minors hands first goes through the wholesalers’ hands
2. Wholesales stopped being brand builders and become order takers years ago
3. Wholesalers shield themselves from competition by holding up minors in front of them to take the bullets
4. The number of women in management positions at wholesalers is dismally low. Why?

This is the short list.

The wholesalers see the emergence of the "Self Distribution" issue as a sure fire way to forever protect their monopoly. Their clear plan is to go state by state and attempt to revoke by legislation the wineries’ ability to sell direct to retailers and restaurants. However, they will see that this is going to back fire mightily.

Their bullying and their cavalier tossing around of campaign contributions to win favorable legislation will and is resulting in a backlash that will eventually find its way to state legislators who will realize that they can no longer support a monopoly that is despised and ridiculed by voters represented by the the likes of arrogant spinners such as Ms. Gravois-Elliot.

Anyone interested in telling Ms. Gravois Elliot what they think of the Wholesalers and their attempts to put small wineries out of business can CLICK HERE

Posted In: Shipping Wine


2 Responses

  1. St.Vini - February 6, 2006

    “If a small winery has a market, why on Earth would a wholesaler not want to sell your wine?”
    That’s easy….because they have another wine, they would prefer to sell in its place. Why take 40 products to sell 10,000 cases when you can do it with 15?

  2. harrymac - February 7, 2006

    Bravo! Bravo! The WSWA reeks of the corporate greed and shameless self-interest that gives the Western world a bad name. I agree with you that we shall see a change, as wineries, their associations and the voting public take action and say NO to the yester-year bully-boy tactics. The industry is growing weary of this dated stance and the consumers and trade buyers demand access to new wines….and the producers are ready to give it to them! Isn’t this supposed to be one big country? Sometimes it feels easier to sell your wine in Outer Mongolia. Thats a fact.

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