Jesus, Confucius, Mohammed, Buddha and Wine Wholesalers

America’s wine and spirit wholesalers are touting a new “economic impact study” (which they paid for), that shows American wine and spirit wholesalers are the most wonderful people ever—only slightly less important than Jesus, Confucius, Mohammed and the Buddha.

“American Family-owned wine and spirits wholesalers are local marketing, brand building and logistics experts for beverage alcohol brands…and are the central link of the three-tier beverage alcohol market between wineries, distilleries, and retailers…Our industry is a powerful economic engine that supports tens of thousands of good-paying, U.S. jobs as part of an industry that generates more than $50 billion in tax revenue to state and federal governments each year,” they say.

What somehow goes unmentioned in this description of the glorious benefits and indispensable expertise of wholesalers is the fact that in nearly every state, NOT using the wholesalers’ services will get you thrown in jail or heavily fined since not using their services amounts to a felony violation of the law.
It’s not unlike the banana republic dictator slapping himself on the back for having won 98.9% of the vote in the last election. (golf clap, please)

In the interest of adding context to the wholesalers’ declaration of divinity, a few things should be considered.

• Wholesalers are not “brand builders”. The brand owners (distillers and wineries) actually developed and build the brand.

• Wholesalers are “logistics experts” only in the sense that they are fantastic at putting boxes on and off trucks.

• Those tiny few wholesalers that control a huge part of the business are “Family-Owned” in the same sense that the Corleone Crime Syndicate is a “family-owned” operation.

• The tax collection and remittance function of the wine and spirit wholesalers (of which they appear so proud) is, in fact, a truly heroic effort that amounts to collecting money and writing checks—bravo, lads. Bravo.

Without the legal requirement in most states that wine and spirit wholesalers MUST be used, hundreds of producers would NOT use their services because they don’t need them, particularly when you consider the increase in technology and services offered by real logistics experts. Additionally, were the wholesalers not protected by the legal requirement that their “services” be used, producers and retailers would keep more of the revenue they are responsible for generating and consumers would pay less for the wine and spirits they purchase.

Above all, what is remarkable about the wine and spirit wholesalers annual bacchanalia of self-congratulations is their complete lack of grace and gratitude for being given such a protected and privileged position in the alcohol beverage industry that allows them to lord over the other two tiers, to keep themselves protected from the normal forms of negotiation and take credit for delivering billions of tax dollars to the state. You’d think they’d say, “thanks”.


One Response

  1. Bob Henry - September 20, 2017

    The chronic challenge for wineries finding distributors — “then” (1988):

    From the Los Angeles Times “Food” Section
    (November 14, 1988, Page Unknown):

    “Wine Marketing Caught in a Squeeze : Wave of Mergers and Business Failures Has Reduced Competition, Discounting”

    By Dan Berger
    Times Wine Writer

    The chronic challenge for wineries finding distributors — “now” (2013 to 2017):

    From Wine Spectator Online
    (November 12, 2013):

    “West Coast Wineries Are Up for Sale — Quietly”

    (A wave of recent deals show investors see opportunities in wine, while owners see an exit strategy.)

    By Tim Fish
    Senior Editor

    — and see —

    From The Gray Report
    (July 31, 2017):

    “Wine trade secrets revealed at OIV Wine Marketing Program”

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