The three-tier system in the wine world within the Untied States is quite the mess, in my humble opinion. After 20+ years of working in this industry, I’ve seen the three-tier system in the US to be ever increasingly shrinking into a select few wholesalers that have been gobbling up everything in site, so they can own more and more shelf space. This ultimately serves fewer and fewer wine companies, which then serves fewer and fewer people with high quality options.

How do you consider the three-tier system in the wine word of the US to be functioning? Is it working for you as a wine company?

As I write this, I’m first reminded of the Rotary Four-Way Test, and I’m now going to spin off that. When I was in radio as a PR agent, I was able to join community groups. Rotary served me well, and I served it well within their 100 percent attendance program, making up missed Rotary meetings in my own town, to attend other meetings all over the country.

There are many guiding forces within this group, and many highly principled people. These principles have been developed over the years to provide members with a strong, common purpose and direction. They’re the foundation of their relationships with each other and the action they take in the world.

Let me also qualify what I’m about to write… There are many small wholesalers. They, too, are struggling against the oppression of the oligopolies. Our economic system doesn’t allow for any monopolies; however, it’s been constructed to benefit the top three to four companies. We have systems of oligopolies… Think of the car industry, for instance. It became dominated in the US by the big three. That worked well enough, until they began to cut corners in quality of products and workmanship. Then, European brands came into the US, and shook up Detroit et al. Now, many of those European and Asian brands have joined forces in the US…  and the recalls are massive… We’ve not been served by the oligopolies.

Nor are we served by the oligopolistic competition that’s been set up by our wine, beer, and spirits wholesalers. Let’s look at the Rotarian four-way test.

Rotary’s Four-Way Test

The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The test has been translated into more than 100 languages, and Rotarians recite it at club meetings:
Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

You will now see that the three tiered system was not set up by anyone with the principles set forth above…

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
    • In the sense of telling all citizens what’s actually available for commercially produced beverages, no, it’s far from the truth.
    • Go into any supermarket and try to find wine produced by an artisan winemaker, outside of the state where the wine’s produced.
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
    • You be the judge. Is the following a fair trade practice?
    • Wholesalers are no longer in the business of building any brand. They’re in the business of stacking shelves from those who are willing to give the biggest discounts, and offer their sales reps monetary incentives for pushing those wines upon a retailer.
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
    • Let’s think aobut the 80 to 20 percent rule.
    • In this case, there is very little goodwill for anyone left out of the three tiered system. And, that’s the 80 percent of wineries NOT be served with this system; while the 20 percent club are served really well, continuing to become ever expanding bohemouths of themselves.
    • Better Friendships? They exist exclusively within the 20 percent, while they dominate the time and energy of retailers and restaurateurs.
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?
    • It benefits the wholesalers, who are selling only wines to you from wine companies that have been forced to line the oligopoly pockets.

What are your choices?

  • Find your voice
  • Find a group that will allow your voice to be heard
  • Vote with your pocketbook

We can become the 80 percent of electorates that force a change. Do you care that you can’t get your hands on some of these wines that have been created by the gods, because the wholesale system is out of control making decisions for you?

Are you in? Join this group: National Association of Wine Retailers (NAWR)

Through NAWR Associate Membership, individuals and businesses that may not be retailers, may be just starting out as wine retailers or may merely support the principles that guide NAWR can join with liked mined concerns in supporting NAWR goals. Associate Membership provides the same networking opportunities as full retail membership, provides access to NAWR communications as well as access to NAWR sanctioned events. Associate Members do not possess a right to vote on association matters as laid out in NAWR bylaws.

How do you consider the three-tier system in the wine world of the US to be functioning?

 

 

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