Thursday, August 14, 2008


Whenever I get into work, the first thing I do is check emails and check the latest wine news. Today on, the announcement that Southern Wine & Spirits and Glazer’s Distributing have joined forces to create Southern/Glazer’s Distributors of America met me with a fairly grim stare. I felt like that poor slub carrying the camcorder in “Cloverfield” did staring up at this huge beast, just before it ate (a big piece of) him.

Is that over the top? I can never tell.

Anyway, I have had my differences with Southern since coming to the great Commonwealth of Kentucky 6 years ago. And I still have nightmares about how Glazer’s gobbled up the late Bauer & Foss in Ohio while I was schlepping wine in Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio. Not really known amongst retailers for good customer service with their retailers, both have pretty subpar track records on their own, but now, YEA! They’ve joined forces to form the veritable supergroup of the wine and spirits industry. Oh, God, don’t make me break out the music analogies. Supergroups: Asia, GTR, The Firm, Audioslave, Rock Star: Supernova… hopefully some die hard wine and music fans get where I am going.

I saw great articles on Tom Wark’s Fermentation and the Good Grape blog, with Mr. Wark seemingly sharing my gloom-and-doom vibe, while the Good Grape dude was seeing a bit more silver lining in the deal. Why would all of this mean anything to the consumers? I will tell you. The merger between these two giants will dominate nearly 80% of the wine market in 38 out of the 50 states – with both my residence of KY and our brethren across the river in Ohio being affected. What this means is that they will effectively control nearly all of what the consumers in these 38 states will have access to, and what they won’t.

Funny how the Whole Foods-Wild Oats merger is again being contested by the government, and this deal is sure to pass through the FTC watchdogs. Monopoly laws be damned!

I have to admit that the sales force in Northern Kentucky and a few terrific folks down in Lexington and Louisville make it a bit easier to deal with SWS, but on the whole, the bureaucratic approach SWS seems to take, at least with us, has made doing business more complicated. I was told by one of my good friends at SWS that it will take months to shake out all the details. Given that we are getting ready for what we affectionately refer to as O.N.D. around here (October-November-December), business will be picking up, and there will be no time to worry about M&A’s in the wine business, but what the New Year will bring is anyone’s guess.

Wasn’t that the head of the Statue of Liberty, or was it just me?

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