Rating Wine Distributors: It’s About Time

I've been accused of being a "DistribNpwdutor Basher". My retort to that accusation is that while I have bashed distributors, it's not a chronic condition with me any more than bashing White Zinfandel is a chronic problem. I have had a nice White Zin, it's just that the bad ones seem so prevalent.

That said, what strikes me is that in this age of social media, citizen reviewers, YELP-reviews and meta ratings, wine distributors and wholesalers seem to have been passed by where the ranking and rating and reviewing trend is concerned.

Not So Much Anymore.

Welcome: NoPayWineDistributors.com

It's a pretty simple concept:

"Welcome to the web site built for the little guys-the small
wineries and negotiants who are constantly battling distributors
for payment. Hopefully, by having you report to this site any
difficulties with any distributor, others will be educated before
shipping wine. After all, most of us don't sell wine on consignments.

We would also like to hear about the good distributors. The ones
who are honest and helpful and pay their bills. We would like to
list them as well. If you don't see a distributor that you want to review, you will have to add one.
After you add a distributor, you can then write a review. Once your review is approved, it will be posted."

The new NoPayWineDistributors.com site is the creation of Peter Norris, proprietor of Vino Family Vineyards. As he explains to Wine Business Monthly, This site is designed to help the
little guys who make and sell wine from getting screwed by a
distributor that is either a very slow pay or a no pay at all."

Peter got screwed by distributors in the past by way of not being paid. This is his pay back.

But it's a very good idea. As I mentioned above, there is very little in the public sphere that addresses which distributors are good, which are not, which are filled with lazy hacks, which include hard working reps, and which are worthless. The only way this kind of information can get out to the people who need it, wineries, is for wineries to make the effort to help their fellow winery by participating with a review of distributors.


14 Responses

  1. PaulG - April 16, 2010

    Yes, on first glance, it’s a good idea. It’s also a boatload of lawsuits waiting to happen. I hope the organizers know what an endless task of vetting these posts they’ve created for themselves!

  2. Ray Krause - April 16, 2010

    Better include those bad wholesalers in “Franchise” states that will take on a brand to sit on it forever, yes?

  3. Joe P - April 16, 2010

    I agree with Paul and Ray, good idea but chances are slim and none that it will be accurate, up to date and complete. I looked at it this morning and it gave no information that was useful or even clear.

  4. George Parkinson - April 17, 2010

    As with every new tool, it will take time to become the thing it is designed to do. The little guy needs as many voices as possible.

  5. Tracy - April 17, 2010

    The concept is great. I wanted to do this a year ago, but was advised not to because of the lawsuit implications.
    I thought it would be better to have accounts with passwords on the site, and make sure each person was in fact a winery before they could gain access. So it would be like a private website for participating wineries. If you want to participate, you’d have to submit your list of distributors with your ratings. So no free looky loos.
    There is nothing like this for small wineries, and it’s always been needed. Many wineries have taken losses by Distributors not paying, yet there are no laws protecting the wineries.
    There are states that have laws that protect the distributor from not being paid by a restaurant or retail account, but they don’t do anything for the supplier selling to the distributor.
    Supplier’s have to be licensed, but have no protection.
    Consumers can rate a business, but when a business rates another business, it might get ugly.

  6. GergT - April 19, 2010

    I already see the “800lb Gorilla” remark in New Mexico being an opportunity for slander. I doubt this site will be up more than a month. The Distributors are going to shut this down quick.
    But on a personal note, I believe the comment about the 800lb Gorilla is accurate! I expect this site to be a legal nightmare and Distributors are going to demand ip address’s from anyone who posts a negative review.
    Tracy is right, the no one protects the small wineries and while this attempt was needed, it was poorly planned and will cause more harm than good.

  7. Mark's Wine Clubs - April 19, 2010

    It’s not a good idea, it’s a GREAT one. Given the number of horror stories I’ve heard from small wineries when it comes to issues regarding retail price holding etc, its almost amazing that a centralized way to share information hasn’t come up yet.
    The site itself has a long way to go, but it would certainly help the honest among us in the wine industry. We pay our bills as soon as they are invoiced and I’ve been amazed at how many wineries tell us about fights over payment with some of their major brokers or distributors.

  8. Paul Mabray - April 19, 2010

    They should go and take a lesson from http://thefunded.com/ to make this really work.

  9. JMac - April 20, 2010

    I am a sales guy for a small distributor and one of our French producers had to wait two years to get paid from a distributor in California. On the other hand, some of our retailers string us along for long periods of time too (not two years). In the states where we sell, there are some pretty tough laws which help distributors get paid, but I don’t know about any laws which help producers get paid other than regular contract law.

  10. tannic - April 23, 2010

    Why stop at wholesalers?
    As a small CA winery that sells direct, there are a multitude of retail and restaurant accounts that pay us last since our wine is easier to replace than the well-vodka is.
    A fair credit reporting, kind of like a FICO score, is a sensible solution…as long as the facts are correct (not just a can of worms).
    Maybe a more plausible solution is to not publicly humiliate bad wholesalers and retail accounts but launch a private site that allows wineries to post facts about this behavior, i.e. invoice number, amount, and receivable aging. This way, indisputable facts are posted instead of opinions about how some wholesaler is working your brand (or not). These symptoms can indicate a greater disease and help protect the small winery.

  11. Neil Barham - April 26, 2010

    I think you should rate the ‘wine buyers’ those who purchase wines for restaurants and stores, these guys are the ones that keep so many interesting wines from the wine-drinkers.

  12. Michael - May 19, 2010

    Of course it’s ALWAYS the distributors and sales person’s fault. It’s NEVER the fact a winery comes to
    you with a sub par new vintage AND they’ve raised the
    price. No, that would never happen. As someone who has taken out a whole case of samples, gotten turned down because “the wine is overpriced” then get yelled at because I didn’t sell a bottle I say: Alot of the times it’s a winery not being honest about what’s in the bottle and what it’s worth. WINERY OWNERS: Look at the market and get real!

  13. S. Miles - June 7, 2011

    And will someone dare to start posting wine shops that don’t pay?

  14. Betting System - July 20, 2011

    Although not a wine producer (commercially at least) I enjoy a good bottle!!
    This is a great idea as all too often the bigger companies withhold payments for as long as possible which harms the smaller businesses. Plus when you try to get payment up front they will just not entertain it in the slightest!!

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