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Wine Spectator School


Class 10: Wine at Work


THE THREE-TIER DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM

Wine in America is sold through a three-tier distribution system that was created when Prohibition was repealed. Designed to protect against organized crime monopolies, this system requires each tier to hold a different kind of license and to play a different role in the production and distribution of wine.

In brief, Tier 1 sells the wine to Tier 2, which in turn sells it to Tier 3. The consumer finally buys the wine from Tier 3. The three tiers are:

  • Tier 1: The Producer
    The producer makes the wine, packages the wine and develops the national marketing and sales plan for the wine.
  • Tier 2: The Distributor
    In each state, the distributor...

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