Wine and the Power of One Voice
Gather 1,000s of people in one place and have them all shout out their reason for being there and what you’ll get is noise that can’t be deciphered. However, get them all to shout out the same words at the same time, and you have a powerful voice that can’t be ignored.
This is the principle behind any organization of individuals with a unique ideological and principled view on issues that seeks to advance their interests. And it is the animating principle behind the formation of the American Wine Consumer Coalition that launched yesterday after two years of planning.
Perhaps the most regulated legal product in America, Alcohol (including wine) is the subject of ongoing and regular examination by lawmakers and state regulators who propose and enact policies that determine who can sell and buy alcohol and how it can be sold and bought. Because wine is so highly regulated, we have a situation where government policy and laws serve to actively choose the winners and losers in a way that few other industries and commercial products experience.
It is almost always the case that those entities and interests that shout the loudest and most in unison are provided the spoils in this game. Historically, wine consumers never spoke in union. Historically, wine consumers rarely were chosen as the winners.
Consider the issue of Wine In Grocery Stores. Fifteen states continue to force consumers to go to separate stores to pick up food and wine for their evening meal. One for food and one for wine. It is a monumental inconvenience to consumers.
It should be no surprise that when asked if they favor wine sold in grocery stores, consumers WANT it. A 2011 survey of consumers in Tennessee found 69% favored it. In New York, 67% of consumers favor selling wine in grocery stores. In Oklahoma, 50%-60% surveyed favored wine being sold in grocery stores. In New Jersey 76% of people who buy alcohol said they would like to see supermarkets sell it.
Yet in these and 11 other states, it remains impossible for consumers to purchase wine in grocery stores. Why? Because the minority continues to talk loudly and with one voice and they are talking loudly and with one voice at the people who decide.
In the United States, according to the Wine Market Council, the core wine-drinking segment—20 percent of the population, representing 46 million U.S. adults, accounts for 91 percent of all wine consumption. What if only 1% of these core wine drinkers in the U.S.—1.15 million people—decided to speak with one voice and speak loudly in defense of their unique interests as wine consumers? The result would be wine in grocery stores, legal direct shipment across state lines from both wineries and retailers. Legal BYOB restaurant laws and a regulatory regime in which the interests of consumers were taken seriously.
I urge you to investigate the American Wine Consumer Coalition. Review its stand on the issues. Take a look at its member benefits. If it turns out that after doing this you find yourself in agreement with the AWCC and those that have already joined, then strongly consider adding your voice and joining for $35 per year and help make the voice of American wine consumers loud and articulate.