Wine Distributors: Obtuse, Facetious or Just Plain DUMB?
I swear to Bacchus, I can't tell anymore if America's wine distributors are being obtuse, being facetious, or are just plain DUMB when they open their mouths and utter words about the business they are in.
As reported in the April issue of Wine Business Monthly, at the recent 2009 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium seminar concerning direct shipping, Craig Wolf, president of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association, responded in the following way to the question of how smaller wineries that can't get distribution in various states are able to obtain exposure in those markets:
He went on to explain that in every market there are "winners and losers":
"It's a direct result of the relationship you create, the product you create (and) the investment you put into it yourself. And that's in any business, not just wine and spirits….I don't think wholesalers need to apologize for that."
I guess when you are guaranteed by law control of the wine distribution system in America and with that guarantee are granted unearned profits, you can make just about any silly and absurd statement you like.
The losers in different states have nothing to do with whether or not a winery has created a marketable product, created relationships in the market or invested sufficiently in the brand. Who loses depends entirely on the capricious whim of wholesalers in states. If they don't want to represent a brand, for any reason, then that brand loses by not have access to the state's market.
Now, were wineries able to sell as much as they wanted, or even a limited amount, directly to consumers or if wineries were able to sell directly to restaurants and retailers across state lines without using a wholesaler, then Mr. Wolf's statement might make sense.
I understand why wholesalers would defend a system that puts them in control of 99% of all profits generated by wine sales in a state. What I can't understand is how these wholesalers gather the gumption to lie straight into the faces of the rest of the industry.