Wine Wholesalers Announced that YOU Are the Enemy


There is a simple way of determining in the wine industry and any other industry or situations, who your opponents are: Line up potential opponents and ask them what they oppose. It’s direct, simple and lacks provocation.

Recently, the only national association of wine and spirit wholesalers provided a list of those things they oppose, making it a simple chore to determine if wine and spirit wholesalers are your opponents/enemy.

At the recently concluded Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America convention, the organization’s CEO, Craig Wolf, presented a handy little list of those things that “challenge” wholesalers. See if you or your business or your sector of the alcohol beverage industry is on that list.

“The middle tier is facing greater challenges today than we ever have before.Big retailers are leading a new wave of litigation designed to break down prohibitions on interstate shipping of alcohol to consumers. Amazon and other large retailers are looking to change the rule in order to buy and sell products outside the three-tier system and dominate the marketplace to the detriment of independent retailers of beverage alcohol. RETAILERS—CHECK!!

“Brewpubs, craft distilleries, small wineries and now even big breweries are seeking expanded retail sales and self-distribution rights. Large distilled spirit suppliers, in the interests of equal treatment of beer, wine and spirits, and a number of small craft distillers, now are contemplating seeking direct consumer sales of their products.” CRAFT BREWERS, CRAFT DISTILLERIES, SMALL WINERIES, LARGE BREWERS, LARGE DISTILLERS—CHECK!!

“Consumers are increasingly desiring the convenience of online ordering and rapid home delivery, and believe the tiered system of independent retailers, wholesalers and suppliers and other important regulatory controls are archaic and anachronistic. And they also believe that legitimate and time-tested regulations are impediments to the on-demand economy and need to be reconsidered.” CONSUMERS—CHECK!!

“There is today a coordinated effort at almost every level to dismantle a regulatory structure that is without question the safest, most accountable, efficient and consumer-friendly and profitable system for the distribution of beverage alcohol in the world today.” EVERYONE AT EVERY LEVEL OF THE INDUSTRY — CHECK!!

It must be tough when the entire alcohol beverage industry, including the end-user of the product, is arrayed against you, but that appears to be what the wine and spirit wholesalers see. On the other hand, you have to ask yourself why your interests are aligned against everyone else in your industry. Is it possible that your interests are so singular and so detrimental to the rest of the alcohol beverage industry that you are the heart of the problem?

No one doubts the value of box movers. Wine, beer, and spirits are heavy and you need brute strength in this industry. But if you look closely at what the wholesalers believe they are fighting against it is in almost every case the following: greater consumer access to products and the legally mandated use of wholesalers. Let me put this another way, what the wholesalers are defending is legally instituted protectionism and bans on consumers accessing the products they want.

Given this, it’s sort of surprising the list of “challenges” the wholesalers believe they face isn’t substantially larger.

12 Responses

  1. Steve - May 18, 2017

    If anyone looks at what the politicians have foisted upon the consumer, it would be hard to define the 3 Tier System as anything other than “arcane”. Our political system at local and federal level needs out-sized portions of mothers milk (money) to survive. The Three Tier Distributors are counted on for donations. Corporations , specifically alcoholic beverage manufacturers and distributors (i.e. Three Tier System), are easy marks for politicians to tap for campaign donations to perpetuate a worthless distribution system against consumers and some manufacturers. Who benefits from such a blatantly repressive system that some small manufacturers and definitely the consumer is forced to support-against their will? Answer: The Three Tier System. A legislated system that is approaching 100 years old.
    Tesla has taken on the automobile distribution system and in some states are winning. So why must consumers be forced to subsidize a wealthy/artificial/ counter-productive system that, by design, is against their own well-being. The elite state is not working for the consumer which is the ultimate financing arm of this destructive, legalized monopolistic system, foisted upon citizens without representation. Even Three Tier Distributors are trying to get a foothold in the distribution of MaryJane. If manufacturers like this system as a means to squeeze out small and medium size producers then they should say so. If small manufacturers like the system, then God Bless America. But Consumers, understand this, once a producer/manufacture of wine, signs with a Three Tier Distributor, that distgributor owns them for LIFE. It is virtually impossible for them to to go to another distributor-even for lack of performance. In some states, even a small craft brewer, winery, distiller that sends a distributor a sample bottle of a product, that act will constitute a distributor arrangement.
    Consumers need to stop the insanity of the Three Tier Distribution Conspiracy. The elite politicians have been feeding that the Fat Hogs Trough long enough so they need to find another source of campaign contributions-Cut the Three Tier Distribution down to a free market size. Consumer should be able to freely buy legal products on the open market as adults see fit. If Starbucks was forced (by laws) to buy coffee beans from franchised distributors only and distributors were allowed to set the price as monopolies, we would be paying $10 per cup of coffee and have not recourse.

    • Anti - May 21, 2017

      3 tier will always be around. The wineries and brewery need them to ship product in a large volume on a national basis. Locally it would be very wise for producers to ship and sell on there own.

      • Doug - October 9, 2017

        The logistics system is in place for self distribution. Wholesalers are “local” shippers anyway. Wineries just need someone to organize and they would not miss a box. Issue with wholesale is their sales and marketing, which focuses on Their top brand to the exclusion of smaller supplier, but at the same margin requirements. Sad part is drivers are only ones in each account WEEKLY..

  2. Steve - May 18, 2017

    On second thought, the enemy are-people or institutions that fosters harmful designs against, or engages in antagonistic activities against another. Three Tier Distribution is the enemy that has been fostered and perpetuated by a collusion between government and private entities (distributors) to force a system on people that may or may not want to support or endorse. At this point in interstate commerce, old distribution system have changed-e.g. Amazon has displaced Sears; the consumer has voted their buying preferences. The government has not stepped in to save retail from modern times-As in retail, the Three Tier Distribution should be put to pasture based upon consumers voting (buying power). But with the Three Tier system the government, by legislation, demands that citizens can only purchase products via their endorsed system. Who is the enemy?

  3. starbucks - May 19, 2017

    If Starbucks had to buy beans through a three tier system the price would not be $10 a cup. Competition in the second tier would drive the price of beans to the price that starbucks is paying.

    also jobs. but i mean yeah hey i want everything shipped to me by robots so 1 person can get rich instead of lots of people. duh

    • Todd Hansen - May 20, 2017

      I frequently order small batch coffee beans online. LOTS of people order small batch coffee online. Lots of small batch coffee roasters (and Hawaiian growers) do well because consumers have the freedom to buy their beans directly, online, with no sanctioned cronyist middle tier colluding with politicians to restrict their access to the market.

      Why do you want to restrict my freedoms? Who benefits when my options are limited?

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