My love of New York is well documented. We office there, we employee there, we sell there, and we scoff at the pizza there. The notion that New Yorkers think the pizza is in the same ballpark as Chicago pizza is laughable, but I digress. We have been in NYC for VinExpo New York 2018! Many of you know this show from its iterations in Asia and Europe, but there was a hiatus in NYC for a few years. Well now they are back.
This show is for the small, independent winery from overseas that is in need of an importer, distributor, and the like. We were there to speak on a panel discussion last Sunday. The discussion was basically a tutorial on how to come to market in the USA. The panel was a who’s who of the business and me :). Myself, the CEO of ParkStreet, the CEO of Bevology, the GM of MHW, and moderated by the editor of Wines and Spirits Daily. As I said, a who’s who and me. We were inundated with the mundane to the basic to the most detailed of questions from producers from all over the globe. A couple of takeaways.
- The USA struggle with the Adult Beverage 3 tier business is global in its pain points
- The new tax reduction for imported wines is a game changer
- Globally Rose’ and whites are super hot and trending
- Unique bottling and corking technique’s are very en vogue
- Language is no barrier in the wine business as we are speaking about wine
- Many producers are still making what they want and not what the market is asking for
- The extra percentages that the importer and distributor take cripple many producers from making money
- Australia is hot again
- Italy is hot again
- Cordials is a thing
Walking the floor of the show and speaking at the show has shown me that the strength of the USA market is strong. No matter what the reality is here from a market perspective, the international winemaker still wants to be here. Making it in the USA is a barometer of success globally, no matter if you are selling 50,000 9L cases in your own region or more. What makes the market so difficult is just that. No matter how successful you are in your winery location, you still want to roll the dice here, pay all the taxes, fees, and layers of expenses that make your $6USD wine sit on the shelf $14.99. I spoke with dozens of wine makers that understand these rules of engagement yet, will still bet the farm, so to speak, sort of, on USA entry.
I believe it is my job as well as the other CEO’s that I was speaking with on Sunday to help sherpa these brands through the three tier system. Our system is complicated, expensive, and there are no guarantees of success. So my take away from Vinexpo New York, is that our international wine making friends need a fighting chance to make a dent in the market. It is our job to make these borders open to this commerce and support this continued movement. You cannot stop a tidal wave! Betting the farm is just a phrase, but these winemakers are literally wagering their farm for USA success, and we wish them well.