Wine is not just a pastime or a hobby, it is a serious business. Winemakers and distributors stand to make a hefty profit from selling wine. In wine distribution, education reigns supreme. Distributors who know their product, their clients and their suppliers are the ones who stand to take advantage of the lucrative wine market. Whether you are a wine distributor new to the market looking to improve your business or a long-time distributor who needs a boost in business, there are several things you can do to become a good wine distributor.
Educate yourself. Take classes at a state university or a community college. With the popularity of wine and a major market for the drink, many colleges offer wine-tasting and education courses that will get you up to speed on current products and the methodology of wine. After getting out of the classroom, hit the streets. Educate yourself about which brands are most popular at locations you are looking to do business with. Successful wine distributors not only know their product but know who will buy it and what to sell to make the most money. Informal polls and talking with other wine distributors is key to identifying popular tastes and potential market niches.
Research the laws concerning wine distribution in your state. Developing a relationship with the appropriate alcohol-regulation agency is important. These are your go-to contacts for most legal questions and permits. Stay in their good graces, and ask as many questions about legal requirements as possible. Laws can change, so stay educated. Even if your product is selling, doing so illegally (whether you know it or not) is the quickest way to go out of business.
Know your suppliers. As a wine distributor, you are the one who ultimately takes responsibility for the contents of every bottle you sell to retailers. Develop good relationships with vineyards whose vintages you sell. Do as much research on vineyards and importers as you do on the product itself. By knowing your suppliers, as well as your clients, you can address a problem in the supply chain before it becomes a crisis.
Develop your business. Like any other market, the wine industry never sleeps. Whether you are new to the game or already have established a name in wine distribution, keeping abreast of new products, new markets and developments in the wine industry is key to being a good wine distributor. Popular tastes and wine methodologies change. Aim to be a walking encyclopedia on everything wine. Not only will it help you sell your existing stock, it will help you grow your business and breach new markets.