A wine broker is someone who mediates between wine sellers and buyers. Wine houses rarely sell directly to customers, so the broker is an essential part of the wine industry. They have contact with a range of clients and must develop good interpersonal relationships with wine houses and purchasers alike.
The wine broker liaises with purchasers, typically retail such as restaurants and wine shops, to determine their requirements and gives advice as required. He then contacts wine producers to source the wine. He is the third party through which the purchase takes place and he extracts a fee (often around 10 per cent) for the service.
A broad knowledge of wine is essential to becoming a wine broker. The knowledge that the broker exhibits instils confidence in both wine producers and purchasers. The broker must have excellent communication skills and the ability to build strong personal relationships. A willingness to work with the schedules of her clients is also a must, as is smart personal presentation and good time management. There are no official qualifications required. Most brokers teach themselves about wine and develop their knowledge on the job. However, marketing skills are advantageous.
Freelance and Firms
There are two main opportunities for wine brokers: they can join a firm of wine brokers or operate as freelancers. Joining an established wine brokerage provides a greater degree of stability as it already has an established network of connections and customers, but the wine broker is usually on a salary, with fewer prospects of high individual returns. As a freelancer, the profits are potentially greater, but the existence is rather more precarious. A freelancer must establish his own network of clients and build up consistent repeat business.
A broker's salary can vary widely, as part of her earnings come from the percentage made up of commissions, but wages of £130,000 a year are achievable for those with experience. The average salary, according to Simply Hired, is £45,500 per year. Wine brokers often go on to manage wineries and wine brokerage firms. Some even set up their own vineyards.
A third career opportunity is to work for a wine producer directly. The wine broker in this instance is the marketing representative for the wine house with the goal of establishing a customer base directly with restaurants, retailers and individuals. She organises tastings and often oversee a sales team.
Wine brokers are the mediators between wine houses and a variety of clients. There are individual buyers who purchase wine as part of their investment portfolio. Wine brokers also work with supermarkets, restaurants and catering companies to provide wines for resale.