Since most of us don’t reside anywhere near the top of wine food chain, at some point we intersect with the distribution system.
Depending on where you live, of course, it can be anything from a piddling annoyance to a grander, weightier matter that transcends irritation. Distributors in the three-tier system are one of those unique love ‘em or hate ‘em institutions.
If you live in a state where they rule with absolute power, they can be the 12,000-pound bull elephant hogging the couch in front of your flat screen TV right before kickoff.
Most consumers would like to be able to order and buy their wines just like we can now order and buy most goods – from a chair in front of your computer, a simple point-and-click maneuver that lets you shop the world via the Internet while resting on your seat.
In many states you can already do this and have the wine delivered to your front porch the next day. But in many states you can’t, which is why Amazon’s intent to sell wine could have broad ramifications.
I know enough about wine distribution to know that there are many obstacles and pros and cons with direct shipping. Yet wineries are learning about Amazon’s plans and how that system might work.
I also know many of you either work in the wine business, and have your views and insights, or you’re like me, you work at making the wine business successful by buying its products.
What does the Amazon wine play look like to you? Will it break the log-jam and open up distribution channels in restricted states? Will the wines offered be mass-produced, grocery store kinds of wines, or will the Harlans of the world end up on-line?