The Bitter Consequences of Attraction

The bitter consequences of attraction are almost always what dull
people to the reality they might otherwise see without problem. I
learned this yesterday, personally, in New York.

The irony is
that just as I learned that masks of self delusion never quite fit
snugly enough on one's face and eventually fall away to reveal reality,
I was also explaining to a room of Italian importers at Vino 2009 the
bitter consequences of believing they are attempting to break into a
market that calls them with open arms. But, the potential of the
American market places leads them to disregard what they should see
right in front of their eyes: an American marketplace that is jerry
rigged against them in fundamental ways.

Importers of wine toil
under the greatest disadvantage of any other sector of the wine
industry when it comes to reaching out to the most dynamic and
profitable consumers America has to offer: those willing to seek out
and buy the most interesting wines on offer.

They cannot ship
direct to consumers in any state. Every statute in every state that
even contemplates the shipment of wine, even in its most restrictive
form, excludes importers.

Importers are disadvantaged by the fact
that their best friends in the American marketplace, retailers, are
barred in all but 13 states from shipping wine directly to consumers.

importers are largely barred completely from engaging in self
distribution, but rather forced instead to employ a wholesaler even if
they don't want to employ one.

And yet, the potential and beauty
of the American marketplace is so dazzling and attractive that they
disregard these facts and see only the potential, not the reality. They
wear a mask of self delusion.

These Italian importers and
producers who gathered to listen to the members of the seminar panel of
which I was a part at Vino 2009 should know better. The topic of the
panel, whether consumers get what they want or want what they get,
should have been the sort of thing that alerted them to the extreme
difficulty they face in trying to break into the American market place.
And still, even with the topic of the seminar staring them in the face
and even with all tiers of the American wine market place on hand all
week to remind them they are largely slamming their head against a way,
they remain optimistic about conquering the American market.

If you can't love that kind of optimism then you just don't appreciate the real consequences of being human.

the thing about humans is that the very optimism that makes them ever
unique is the very same quality that puts them on the brink of failure
and often causes their dissent into misery anddisappointment.

I'm not a big fan of disappointment.
But I'm big enough to admit that even as I walk right into its teeth,
there's got to be an exit from it too.The importers that were in New
York this week to introduce Italian wines to the American wine trade
will realize this. The question for myself is whether or not I'll
remain big enough to realize it personally.

Posted In: Wine Business


5 Responses

  1. Thomas Pellechia - January 29, 2009

    Having in the past been a retailer in Manhattan, and having worked for a distributor in the state, I know it’s possible for importers to also be distributors in NY State. It requires a warehousing operation and also, I think, a separate license.
    Are you saying that it’s no longer possible in NY or that it’s a general problem throughout the U.S.?

  2. Jeff - January 29, 2009

    I’m noticing a thematic current running through your posts lately, similar to an authors “period” whereby their mood imparts an imprint on their work, unbeknownst to the author until some level of hindsight.
    All I can say, with speculation, is that your work against the tyranny of the three-tier system is much needed, even if it’s not eventually in any official capacity. You have a command of the issues and an eloquence in fighting them to a degree greater than anybody that doesn’t have a J.D. and bills by the hour.
    I would urge you to take the long hard road in your fight.
    We all appreciate it.

  3. Tom Wark - January 29, 2009

    You are perceptive fellow. It turns out that my current “mood” is unrelated to the work to expand the American wine market place, but is rather of a personal nature. However, it’s always a good idea to try to turn personal “stuff” into productive stuff where ever possible. Right?

  4. Nick - January 29, 2009

    Keep up the good fight Tom, you will persevere!

  5. Dylan - February 2, 2009

    I think optimism is another word for persistence. Without optimism, without the slightest inkling of hope that things will indeed become better, then you would not be motivated to continue. A pessimist gives up, they are ready to woefully throw up their arms in surrender to life’s forces. A pessimist prefers to agree with what’s happening to them, “let it happen,” they’ll sigh, this is the reality. Optimism, while limited to naivety, is harder work then it appears. If we only ever chased after what was easy I’d be hard-pressed to see our world today.

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