The the vast sea of consolidation in the beverage industry it is far to easy to get bogged down with the question, “How am I ever going to compete.” At least once per year I get cold feet about the wine industry. I get lethargic, unmotivated and feel like I might as well throw in the towel. Luckily Brittany is always there to whip me back into shape but that question still looms:
With everyone gunning for more market share how do you as a small producer continue to kick ass and take names?
If this article is correct in saying, “Today there are about 500 major alcohol wholesalers in the US market, down from 7,000 at the turn of the century,” I feel like my worries that come around one a year are very VERY valid. If the small guys continue to disappear how the hell are we going to be able to compete? Our saving grace has largely been the ability to ship wines directly from the winery (in most cases to customers but also to restaurant and retail accounts in some cases as well). Unfortunately there are plenty of states around the US that “require” that you utilize a distributor. Realistically it isn’t a bad option to have boots on the ground in a given state since it is hard to be at a winery making wine while traveling around the country doing sales trips during harvest. That said we still do our fair share of travel when things slow down.
On the plus side sites like LibDib and Merchant23 are providing easy to use online platforms for small wine companies to carve out their niche. That said we are still in for the long haul to get the airtime we would like to receive.
Fighting the good fight as a small producer is tough and can be extremely disheartening. At the same time you can still find those moments of great success with a wine club release or new wine you are adding to the lineup that keep your passion burning.
For me I fight the good fight because I want people to know that there are small producers out there that make AMAZING wines that you have never heard of. I want people to challenge their taste buds and strive to try something new on a regular basis (a mentality that should pertain to more than just wine). While the big market trends are fun, because who doesn’t love a kick ass dry rosé, there are plenty of immensely talented individuals who are bucking those trends. We may not be the ones with prime time ads, flashy tasting rooms or immaculate looking wine making facilities. However we are the ones with the most personality and passion.