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By Dawn Dolan

The wholesale channel has always been challenging, particularly for small to medium-sized wineries, and over the last two decades, things have gotten even harder.  Many wineries have responded by focusing more energy and resources on direct-to-consumer programs, but for those that want to maintain their presence in the general market and/or grow their brand, working more effectively with their distributors is a must. Wine Industry Network (WIN) recently announced the launch of the 3-Tier Wine Symposium, a one-day conference focused on helping wine industry owners and executives navigate the complicated, but necessary, world of distributor relations.

George Christie, President / Wine Industry Network

The focus of the symposium is distributor relations and succeeding in the wholesale channel, with a dedicated emphasis given to providing information pertinent to small and medium-sized wineries. Discussing the rationale for choosing this topic for the symposium, George Christie, President of Wine Industry Network and producer of the new 3-Tier Symposium says, “Our mission at Wine Industry Network is to be the best business resource we can be, and this topic was something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. It’s a pain point for nearly every winery we work with, so we decided to tackle the subject head on.”

The moderator for the day’s sessions, Laura Webb, brings her years of experience in marketing and innovation for the food & beverage industry to the stage. Working across all areas of adult beverage Webb recently merged Webb Brand Consulting with ELA Consulting Group to become the new consulting firm, Okos Partners a premier sponsor of the 3-Tier Symposium. Says Webb, “George and I came together for the development of this project. We both observed the challenge many wineries were facing in optimizing and leveraging their relationships with distributors. I see this Symposium as a chance for wineries to take a fresh look at those relationships to drive meaningful growth.”

Laura Webb, Symposium Moderator, Partner / Okos Partners

The day’s format is linear, “Each of the sessions will build on each other, like building blocks, over the course of the day, and every speaker will have something very valuable to add to the conversation as we take on each topic,” Christie adds, “We’re very excited about the quality of speakers and the amount of expertise they’ll bring to the conversation.” Webb will be the moderator for all sessions, moving from strategic to more tactical topics as the day progresses.

The topics that will be covered include changes in the distributor world, distributor consolidation, finding the right distribution partner, planning a new product launch, and how private labels are impacting the wholesale channel.

Many small to medium wineries have moved away from what they perceive as three-tier game playing. Webb says this is a missed opportunity, and that many small and medium-size wineries’ growth goals are such that you must have 3-tier distribution to reach them.

Excited by the opportunity to moderate the day, Webb feels that the structure of this symposium differs from others like it in that it is designed to move beyond information and expertise sharing to a more interactive, action-oriented experience. She notes her role is to help audience members:

  • Glean new insight and perspective from the information that is shared
  • Translate those insights into ideas for their own organizations
  • Develop an initial game plan for implementing ideas and changes that will directly improve their relationship and outcomes with distributors

The event will be held at Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa on May 22, 2019 and in addition to offering many valuable insights into the wholesale channel, this event will be invaluable for networking with other wineries, consultants and distributors. The day kicks off with a chance to meet fellow vintners over breakfast and coffee, followed by a beautiful buffet lunch and finally, will wrap with a wine tasting and networking session. To register, or to get more information about attending, speaking, or exhibiting, visit 3tierwine.com or email [email protected]. Seating is limited.

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