Happy (Wine) Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day to all!

There are a few┬áreaders of this blog that are outside of the United States, so here’s the short version of why July 4th matters in America: this is the day we celebrate the spirit of our country, the founding fathers and what they believed in, the standards by which freedom reign, and document that made it all happen: the Declaration of Independence.

The day is celebrated with fireworks, cookouts, and a day off for many.

Focusing on the concept of independence, it’s a good day to stop and consider your wine world and how much independence you have. Why? Because independence naturally breeds a position and motivation for selling what you do and to whom, and a position and a motivation naturally form tribes of support for what you do. It’s the sales cycle that nobody wants to acknowledge (it’s easier to say sales techniques and product quality are actually selling the wine, when in actuality many people buy from you simply because of what you stand for and represent).

If you are a wholesaler: do you have independence to decide the future of your portfolio, or are you beholden to the whims and demands of a handful of large suppliers? What percentage of your sales do your top five brands represent? Are you in control of your own destiny?

If you are a wholesale wine sales rep: do you have independence to sell what you want, to find specific needs for your specific customers? Or are you handed quotas and demands to make PODs (points of distribution) above all else? Are you allowed to sell the way you think is best, or are you handed a manual telling you what to do and say when you walk in the door?

If you are a wine retailer, do you carry certain wines because you have to? I’m not talking about commodity wines that your customers ask for — that’s called giving the customer what they want — but rather I’m talking about your suppliers forcing you to take X in order to get Y. Do your wholesalers dictate a certain amount of your selections based on getting the best deal so you can stay competitive?

If you are a restaurant, do you have wine independence on your list? Can you carry whatever you want from whatever distributor you want at any time? Or are you beholden to certain distributors in order to get deal pricing on liquor or beer? Or because they print your wine lists? Have deals been set up from beyond your pay grade that constrain your choices and force brands to appear on your list?

A personal Wine Declaration of Independence is something to think about. What do you stand for? What do you celebrate in your wine world? How much of it are you in control of?

Happy (Wine) Independence Day to all!