Wine Wholesalers Keep To Losing Strategy with New CEO
The Wine &Spirit Wholesalers Association (WSWA), the arch enemies of wine consumers, small wineries and emerging wine regions across the country, has appointed a new CEO and President to replace Juanita Duggan. Craig Wolf, the interim CEO and former General Counsel, will take over this position.
Wolf has been instrumental in shaping WSWA policy that opposed direct shipping of wine to consumers at every turn and has helped shape WSWA strategy of squashing emerging wine industries in states across the country by convincing legislators to mandate that wineries use wholesalers to get their wine to restaurants and retailers, rather than simply sell it to restaurants themselves.
In a press release issued by the WSWA, Wolf made a statement that needs bit of translation. Allow me:
"America’s wine and spirits wholesalers are indispensable to the regulated
alcohol distribution system in this country" (Unless that alcohol is produced by small wineries that want to distribute themselves…in that case WSWA is of no value).
"…We bring an amazing selection
and availability of fine products from across this country and around the
world" (except for those that don’t provide wholesalers with much profit and in those cases we makes sure those wineries have little opportunity to sell their product to anyone beside their neighbors…after all, why should these wineries be able to sell their wine to a broad market if we can’t make a profit off it?),
"…as well as provide local control and regulation to a socially-sensitive
product" (We push paper in a way no one else could possible do).
"…We will be looking for new ways to communicate the
value of our role in the distribution process. (We will continue to pay off legislators in order to maintain our state-mandated monopoly–ain’t capitalism grand…you can buy the most amazing things).
Wolf made his name working for Sen. Orin Hatch of Utah before taking the position of General Counsel for WSWA. Working side by side with Juanita Duggan, he took part in one of the most amazing series of PR disasters in wine history: The concerted attempt to convince consumers, legislators and the nine justices of the Supreme Court of the United States that wineries were sending $100 bottles of wines into the hands of teenagers.
What will Wolf think of next? Stay tuned.
Larry Ruvo of Southern Wine & Spirits quoted in the LA Times: “If we don’t carry it, you don’t need it.” Seems to sum it up..
John Hinman of Hinman & Carmichael in San Francisco, the alcohol beverage law specialists, and the General Counsel of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association uses the above quote on the title page of a presentation he gives on the current litigation climate in the wine industry.
Quotes like this from Southern demonstrate that all the the repeal of prohibition really changed was to legalize bootlegging monopolies.
Perhaps Ruvo’s next quote should be: “If we don’t sell it to you, we are going to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to politicians to prevent you from buying it.”
Now Larry Ruvo is employing long-standing restraint of trade practices by filing meritless lawsuits against a new fledging wholesaler/distributor in Nevada who wishes to serve small, boutique wineries whose products to which Southern doesn’t give the time of day. He has also filed lawsuits against two small wineries that clearly fall under the Nevada franchise law exemption just to make them “pay” for attempting to leave Southern (Fess Parker Winery, Fortress Vineyards and Vin di Vino). He has apparently also put the “word” out that he will sue any wine sales person who dares to go with the new wholesaler/distributor. We are fighting back against this unwarranted monopolistic behavior…..
Barbara Snider, Owner & General Counsel, Fortress Vineyards