They say “Revenge is a dish best served cold”.
When you’re in the wholesale wine distribution business and you lose a vineyard agency to another distributor (read poached by) invariably the winery is behind it with a sweeter deal on offer or more comprehensive distribution.
Despite all your hard work and success in building the brand, there’s no point in bitching about it, as it will only be seen by the trade as sour grapes on your part, so you move on, swallowing the bitter pill and knowing that it’s a thankless job being a wine distributor with the wine consumer completely oblivious to your toil.
As a wine merchant (retailer) once said to me, “The wine industry is a flytrap for fuckwits.” and you can’t help but feeling like one when a winery rips the guts out of your business, and secretly you long for the day when that vineyard finds itself on the slippery slope and about to be gutted themselves.
There was one such winery that ripped the guts out of my distribution business (a long time ago) and it took the best part of two years to fully recover, but we did, in spite of that vineyard owner telling me “You will be fucked without us”.
I learnt the age old lesson of not having all your eggs in one basket, but also even more valuable insight; how naive one can be when it comes to ‘business’. You see, what I had not realized is this winery owner had a grand plan to make my business so (revenue) reliant on them that they would eventually have me cornered and unable to refuse the offer of running a distribution company of their own, having worked out that their vineyard production volume would be sufficient to make their own wholesale distribution financially viable by cutting out the middleman.
Alas, the irony was this vineyard was paying me a big compliment seeking my expertise and wanting to make me the managing director of this new distribution company, at the same time totally insulting me by thinking they could burn my company in the process and pay me a relative pittance to run theirs.
Yes, I know it all smacks of the bitter and twisted. I have always envisaged that I would save writing on all the dirt in the wine trade that I experienced for my memoirs, and that’s still stands– but I could not resist just tasting that little bit of sweet revenge.
And, for wineries and the wine trade, don’t forget you are not making washing machines or selling aluminum siding; you are part of a very complex and emotive product and it is PEOPLE who sell wine.