Behold—The Whiny Call of the Wine Wholesaler

whinewhining (verb)
1. give or make a long, high-pitched complaining cry or sound.
2. To complain or protest in a childish or annoying fashion

The Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America (WSWA), that national organization representing the best box carriers in the country, never gets any media coverage for its press releases. You might think that’s odd given this organization’s political clout and multi-million dollar annual budgets. But if you want to understand why this is the case all you have to do is look at a recent press release of theirs that defies reason.

In a recent press release the WSWA compared shipping a bottle of wine across state lines to a doctor who engages in medical malpractice. They then followed this up with comparing the shipment of a a bottle of First Growth Bordeaux  across state lines to a convicted serial drunk driver. The former is likely to maim a human being. The latter likely to kill a human being. And these things are just like shipping a bottle of Napa Cabernet to a wine collector.

I’m not kidding. This stuff was in their press release. You can read it yourself right here.

I can only imagine the look on the face of Jeff Solsby, the Vice President, Communications of WSWA, when his boss, Craig Wolf, told him to write a press release in which maiming and killing human beings is akin to shipping a bottle of White Burgundy to a wine lover.

In the end, this tantrum disguised as a press release is really a plea for help. Despite their best efforts, no one in the media or in the alcohol beverage industry will defend the Three Tier System of wine distribution except wholesalers and campaign contribution-laden lawmakers. In fact can go a day without reading someone once again explaining how the three-tier system is nothing more than an archaic system whose time has long passed and now only serves as a prop for wholesalers unwilling to try to stand on their own and compete in a modern economy.

My wife and I have a little boy who is only 9 months old. But even at that young age its easy spot when Henry is just plain whining because he isn’t getting everything he wants or isn’t getting all the attention he wants. This most recent press release from the wine and spirit wholesalers reads the same as Henry’s whines for attention.

This won’t be the last whiny, hypocritical press release from the WSWA. After all, who else is going to defend a system that deserve no defense except those who are kept in business by the system? The Media? I don’t think so. Consumer groups? No. The members of the alcohol beverage industry who are put at severe a disadvantage so wholesalers can be protected from having to compete on a level playing field? Not likely. No the job of whining in the defense of the three-tier system will be left to the wholesalers.

What I can’t wait to read is the claim that if the three-tier system isn’t defended, people will die left and right. Because, you know, shipping a bottle of Champagne to a wine lover is just like a drunk wholesaler plowing his delivery truck into an innocent bystander, killing them.


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6 Responses

  1. David Vergari - March 11, 2015

    We have met the enemy and it is the WSWA, or Wine & Spirits Wholesaler of America, a staunch advocate of maintaining the archaic three-tier system of wine, beer and spirit sales in the U.S. Many outside the wine industry are probably not aware that their franchise is being threatened because the WSWA’s agenda interferes with the freedom to sell alcohol-based drinks–wine, for example–across State lines…unless, of course the wholesaler gets a piece of the action. Wholesalers came into being when Prohibition was repealed over eighty years ago; they have clearly outlived their commercial usefulness, but they’re not going down without a fight. Their President, Craig Wolf, equates interstate sales of wine with medical malpractice or drunk driving? The analogy simply does not stand up. And it’s despicable.

  2. larry mawby - March 12, 2015

    interesting, this from the wswa press release:
    ‘Our industry’s rules and regulations are stricter than for other consumer products because alcohol is unlike other consumer products. And the authority to regulate licensees is integral to a state’s ability to prevent underage access, maintain regulatory control, collect tax revenue, and sustain a market virtually devoid of counterfeit and tainted product.’
    while there is little in the wswa release that makes sense, this bit does, actually.
    and to me, it does not in any way support the notion that a three-tier system must be mandated in order to accomplish those regulatory goals. in fact, it would seem easier to regulate if only the producer and consumer ends of the system were regulated. why burden the regulatory system with an unnecessary third layer?
    make the wholesaler optional. i love my wholesalers, but i want the freedom to get a divorce if things go bad.

  3. Sonoma Wine Guy - March 12, 2015

    Back in the mists of the past, I believe the WSWA and the neo probs were allies (if perhaps not formally) against direct shipping and easier consumer access to wines. Plus their donations to neo prob causes (fill in the blank here) made them real friendly at government hearings. Result was the safety argument against s direct shipping, which this current tripe is a riff, on. If anything, an argument can be made that the WSWA is the bigger danger, putting lots of cheap alcoholic beverages in so many places that are easier and quicker to purchase in vast quantities than direct shipment fine wines. So, doesn’t this make their business model more dangerous? Ha!

  4. Cong Nguyen - March 14, 2015

    Clever strategy .

  5. Steve - March 18, 2015

    Tom – what would say is the next step for distribution though?

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