Saturday, July 19, 2008


It takes very little to make me angry in this business. I think I am a pretty easy-going person when it comes to wine, and most all the people I have met in this business have been truly great. Yet every now and again, I meet up with someone that irks me to the limit.

Why do I bring this up? Well, every now and then, I see a particular wine that for years, I enjoyed promoting because it truly is one of the best values out there. Surfing the blogosphere, I was on Wine Lover’s Page and saw the Falesco Vitiano recommended, and it got me thinking how years ago, I had to kick out one of my favorite importers due to the possibility of price fixing being suggested by the regional sales rep for this company. I know that a lot of you don’t really understand just how wine gets to us (because the three-tier set-up forcefully imposed on the industry by post-Prohibition regulations is about as complicated as astrophysics) yet it all came about one fateful day when the importer called, saying he was fielding complaints from accounts in New York and elsewhere, bemoaning our prices on his wines. We often do this to suppliers because we refuse to be boxed in by SUGGESTED retail pricing. We enjoy selling quality product at lower prices than our competitors because our customers seem to like it. Strange, huh?

Well, this gentleman was not pleased, and implied that, discovering we work on a lower margin than our competitors, he was proposing to charge MORE to us. In a manner of speaking, I told him “thanks but no thanks,” and now, some 3 or 4 years later, we still do not carry their products.

In a way, I owe them thanks because it was then that I discovered the great wines of the John Given Wines (RIP Mr. Given), and later, Banville & Jones (many former employees of the aforementioned importer), and Palm Bay Imports. There are FAR TOO MANY wines out there to really have to rely on one importer, which I had for years prior. And though I would still like to carry the wines of this importer, I won’t at the expense of running off my customers.
Which fascinates me to know end – why it is that the suppliers, and even the wholesalers seem to forget where the wines end up. I just don’t understand. With all the hemming and hawing over direct shipping and the like, why can’t these people realize that it is ultimately the customers that pay the price. The last thing we as wine vendors should want is to end up like the airline industry (fees for everything and customer satisfaction at nil). Maybe if these importers and wholesalers worked the floor of my store for a couple of weeks, they might figure out that if they really want their wines in front of the public, they would stop being royal assholes to the retailers. Because it really is not that the retailers need these guys, but that these guys need the retailers. Without us, their wines wouldn’t get to the customers, and without that, there’s no money to be made.

Just a thought.

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