Categorized | Blog, New to Wine?

Support your favorite wineries… buy direct

As it snows outside this after noon, I can’t help but feel inspired to jot down a little memo to the wine drinkers out there who not only enjoy travelling to various wine-regions (which all of us should be doing anyway), but also may find themselves drawn to certain wineries.

What I’m about to get into really applies to smaller wineries – you know, the “ma and pa”-type wineries who are really doing it for the love – but also can apply, in principle, to any winery.
Having worked a bit in the industry for a wine distributor, I can tell you that there’s a hellacious mark-up on every bottle of wine you buy at the store – most of which go directly into the coffers of the distributor and the retailer.

I’m not here to trash distributors as in many instances they can become a necessary evil for every winery; however, I do think the general public needs to understand why it’s very important (when at all possible) to work out some sort of arrangement with their favorite wineries.

Additionally, there are many fine retailers who work their tails off – trying to help ensure you have a pleasant wine experience.

As a very generalistic example, a $20 bottle of wine at retail has a wholesale cost to the distributor for $8-$1o (may even be a bit less) from the winery. This means that, in many cases, that the retailer and the distributor are getting as much, if not more, than the winery – so if the winery is selling it for $8-10, it doesn’t have much in the way of profits. Think about the cost of the grapes, the cost of shipping the grapes (in many cases), the cost of the barrels etc.

The reality is, if a winery doesn’t have a very good direct sales model, chances are they won’t be able to stick around very long – especially the ones which aren’t backed by deep pockets.
I say all of this to say that if you care about a particular winery and regularly drink its wine, then you really should try and purchase directly from them as that way they’re getting all of the profits. If it’s important to you to help keep them in business than buying direct is always the best way to keep out “the man” from taking quite a large chunk out of a bottle of wine.

  • La Conner Wine Guy

    Whoa now Duuuuuane, hold the phone here…! You should really think before you write… if not for distributors and retailers, there would be no Washington wine industry! Distributors enlighten/introduce restaurants, retailers, etc. to new brands, so that these wines can be featured on wine lists, at tastings, etc. – it’s all about exposure and education, and without those elements, wineries don’t have a chance. Personally speaking, I work my ass off 7 days a week to keep my shop running, so that I can get a piddly 30% (INDUSTRY STANDARD) mark up on wines. In most other retail it’s called ‘keystone’ markup; that is, buy something for a dollar, sell it for two. I don’t know exactly who you are referring to as “the man”, but it sure as hell ain’t specialty mom and pop wine shops like myself. You are correct when you say a winery should have a good direct sales program, but don’t totally discount the world of restaurants, wine bars, wine shops, etc…. those entities are the oil that keeps the wine machine running. It’s easy to be critical if you don’t work in the biz… it’s a completely different ballgame when you are trying to make a living in this industry. And despite the fancy marketing tricks out there, those boutique mom and pop wineries that make a good product are the ones that will succeed. It’s a dog eat dog world baby!