Highlights from Day 2 of USATT 2017

After an exciting first day at the USATT 2017 conference that featured nearly 1,500 attendees, 138 exhibitors and the first-ever public U.S. tasting of wines from Chateau Rongzi in China, the second day continued with two new Master Classes, two VIP expert panels and a number of different speaker presentations focusing on how emerging brands can enter the U.S. wine and spirits market.

The second day kicked off with an interactive audience Q&A that focused on the specific problems and needs of foreign wine and spirits brands attempting to enter the U.S. market. The panel, moderated by Steve Raye of Bevology, featured Martin Sinkoff of Frederick Wildman, Michael Votto of Votto Vines, Michael Yurch of Blue Sky Group and Rob Bradshaw of Cape Classics. This group of experienced wine industry veterans shared their perspectives of what importers and distributors are really looking for when selecting a new brand for their portfolio.

As the panelists explained at the outset, importers and distributors get lots of cold calls, so you need to be interesting and stand out. As Rob Bradshaw pointed out, unique stories can instantly connect you with importers and distributors, so you need to make some kind of emotional bond with a buyer. Always have your story ready when talking with importers and distributors. Michael Votto emphasized that you always need to know what your specific category looks like in the U.S market and what your competitors are doing. And Martin Sinkoff suggested that you need to understand where your product fits within an importer’s portfolio.

Along the way, the panel’s participants fielded questions on everything from how global warming and climate change are impacting the wine industry to a discussion of new, non-traditional routes to navigate a very complex U.S. market. Michael Yurch noted that the bigger the distributor’s portfolio, the harder you have to work to become an important part of that portfolio. You need to be your own advocate. The difficulty, says Martin Sinkoff, is that, “The wine business is not one thing. It’s a very complex organism. Each retailer is looking for something different.” So you have to be constantly innovating.

The morning session also featured a Master Class on Portuguese wines, focusing on the wines of the Tejo region. Participants learned about Portugal’s winegrowing tradition and how the wines of the Tejo region are distinct. They also had a unique chance to sample some of the best wines from the region.

As on Day 1, the United States Trade Tasting 2017 event also featured a busy day on the showroom floor. Over 130 exhibitors from 20 countries showcased their products. Alongside wines from traditional wine producing countries like France and Italy were new wines from Eastern Europe (including Slovenia and Moldova), South Africa and China.

USATT 2017

In the afternoon session of the conference, participants had a chance to hear from Thomas Barfoed, Managing Director of JF Hillebrand USA, who discussed the “7 Ways That Brands Can Optimize Their Domestic and International Logistics.” For example, he discussed how small and mid-size brands can optimize their shipments to the U.S., what logistical factors might impact margins and pricing, and how different modes of transportation can impact your go-to-market strategy.

Gerry Schweitzer, the legendary marketing genius behind Leblon Cachaca, made a special appearance in the afternoon. He illustrated the right way to go about pitching a distributor, focusing on how to tell a convincing brand story. Your brand story, he says, has to be compelling, personal and easy to remember. It has to explain why your brand is unique and how to build your brand.

In some cases, as in the example of Leblon, you can own not just a category, but also the entire drink (as in the example of cachaca and the Brazilian caipirinha). Schweitzer provided plenty of relevant marketing examples from Leblon, including many tactics that today’s marketers might refer to as “guerilla marketing” (e.g. re-painting a DHL delivery truck as a hip and trendy cachaca delivery truck).

Richard Halstead, Chief Operating Officer of Wine Intelligence, then gave a talk on, “How to Win Retailers and Influence Them With Effective Merchandising and Programming.” He was joined on stage by Stephen Fahy of Wine Library, who was also a special guest during Day 1 of the event. The two talked about the best strategies and tactics for getting specialist retail stores to carry your specific product.

When thinking about specialist wine retailers that might carry your product, they suggested, it’s important to think in terms of two very different types of consumers – the consumers who are very brand-driven and the ones who are very “involved” and care a lot about how a specific product fits into their lifestyle. In general, these more involved consumers are younger, and they are starting to account for a larger and larger percentage of retail wine consumers.

Then, a press panel on “The Do’s and Don’ts For Getting Press Coverage For Your Brand in the USA” featured moderator Steve Raye of Bevology; Gregg Glaser, Publisher/Editor of Modern Distillery Age; William Tish, Managing Editor of Beverage Media; and David Spencer, Publisher, and Editor of iSante. The panel covered both the big picture view of how to generate media buzz for your product, as well as some of the granular details of marketing, such as how to prepare a pitch e-mail for editors of both online and offline publications.

The afternoon session concluded with a Beaujolais Master Class, in which participants had a chance to re-discover the light red wines of the Beaujolais wine region in France. The Master Class covered the unique characteristics of each of the Beaujolais Crus.

And, of course, the day ended with more activity on the main showroom floor. Even in the last hours of the event, importers and distributors were mingling with the exhibitors, looking for the perfect new product for their portfolio.

USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now and get 30% off the Regular Exhibiting Fee.

What U.S. Retailers Are Looking for and How to Pitch Them

On a daily basis, a wine and liquor retailer/wholesaler must manage a litany of items. Among those things is a slew of requests from a large number of winemakers who are eager to get their offerings on store shelves. When making a pitch to them, its important for a representative to be focused and respectful of the retailers time. Also vital is the ability to make a brand stand out from the rest in a crowded U.S. market.  

Meet the Retailers Needs

One of the most important themes in any sales pitch? Authenticity.  Retailers will be looking for an authentic story that tells of provenance. Theyll pass this along to the customers to help improve a brands identity. Ben von Doussa, USA Market Entry Manager for Wine Australia, likes to remind winemakers that every year the TTB approves a whopping 180,000 to 200,000 SKUs for wine and spirits in the United States. Because of this, a sales pitch must be incredibly compelling in order to garner any attention.

Wine Australias vision, going forward, is for Australia to be recognized as the worlds pre-eminent wine-producing company.Another key to standing out in the U.S. market is to focus on what makes Australian fine wines special when compared to other countries. Discussion of the diverse, unique regionality and superior terroirs found throughout Australia, as well as the skilled and innovative people behind the wine, helps to set Aussie wines apart from those made by other wine-producing hard hitters. The exciting thing about this? Its exactly what U.S. retailers are currently looking for. They want luxury wine offerings with a story and a sense of provenance behind them. Moving forward with this information in hand, Wine Australia is confident that Aussie wines have the capacity to be recognized as the best in the world.

What do U.S. retailers want from the New Australia? Listening to the needs of retailers is important and when von Doussa contacted them to talk specifics, they expressed excitement about the potential of new offerings to revitalize the Australian wine category. There have been approximately 50 Australian brands competing for an ever-shrinking amount of American shelf space over the past years. Retailers are looking for something new to attract customersattention.  

The story of origin is critically important in these new brands. Wine consumers want to purchase wine with a sense of place. As they open a bottle over dinner with friends, they want to be able to discuss where the grapes were grown, the purity of the water used to grow them and the growing conditions that make that region different from the rest.

Authenticity is also a significant factor to consider. When entry-level brands flooded into the U.S. wine market, it resulted in damage to the overall image of the Australian wine industry among American consumers. Retailers decided that most Australian brands werent able to deliver the kind of quality-to-price ratio that they needed. Margins matter, and representatives must demonstrate that offerings from the Australian category are capable of delivering the margins seen by other segments such as California or Europe. Its no longer acceptable for fine Australian wines to be perceived as an entry-level product.

In forming a sales pitch, there should be three areas of focus. Lead with all the specifics that make a wine unique. Media ratings from third-party sources like Wine Spectator are highly valued in the U.S. market. In addition to this, provenance, authenticity and a wines extraordinary value through luxury price points will help build a story that retailers want to hear. U.S. retailers are very motivated by driving margin, especially with the online competition that exists in the wine market. To top off the triad of sales pitch organization, offering regional exclusives is an excellent strategy to help build a relationship with various retailers.

Know the Customer

As wine representatives pitch various retailers, their presentation should vary according to the needs of each individual business. These needs are defined by the shopping behaviors of the customer base of that retailer. For instance, warehouse club Costco is perhaps the holy grail of accounts for wine brands. This is because they move a high volume of product, selling it to customers who arent concerned with price point and make wine purchases based on reviews and ratings. This differentiates Costco from other clubs such as BJs and Sams. They cater to a customer base that is primarily motivated by price point and is looking for cost-effective wine options.

Apart from Costco, stores with specialty wine programs should be another area of intense focus for winemakers and their representatives. Places like Earth Fare and Wegmans cater to wine-centric customers who love having a good story behind their wine. Customers who frequent specialty wine shops spend lots of time researching online ratings and are drawn to great quality wine with attractive packaging.

Grocery chains can prove to be a tough nut to crack for luxury wine brands, but ignoring them is a grave error. Brands that can break into a grocery store such as Kroger or Publix at a luxury price point will enjoy the ability to move a large amount of product. Grocery stores want quality wine and are happy to provide a selection for their customers who are looking for a higher price point. However, the current selection of Aussie wines being presented at most grocery stores is being sold as entry-level, low-cost offerings. Grocery stores run in contrast with the drug store wine market in the U.S., where customers are primarily motivated by a wines price point and packaging and are typically shopping for the lowest-priced products. These are not the best choice to focus on for sales.

Independent wine retailers such as Sherry-Lehman and Binnys in Chicago provide a market where price point is not an issue for the clientele. These kinds of retailers sell to a customer that is focused on ratings, as well as a wines story. Before making a choice, these customers need to know where their wine is from, how it was made and what makes it different from the brand sitting directly next to it on the shelf.  

As years go by, more and more of the wine market is playing out on the internet. Sites such as Wine.com and WTSO cater to customers who do intensive research before making a wine purchase. Ratings play heavily with these customers, and they are interested to know the story behind any brand they consider buying. Price point is not a leading priority for online wine customers.

Wine and liquor chains with multiple locations such as ABC or Apple Jack function similarly to specialty grocery stores. They market wine by placing a spotlight on ratings and the story. Attractive packaging also works to garner the attention of customers in these stores. Small mom and pop stores cater to customers who are primarily focused on ratings and packaging. Although the price point isnt a big concern, mom and pop stores can prove to be challenging due to low-volume sales. A supplier will need to cover extensive ground to reach substantial numbers with independent retail stores.

Success in the U.S. wine market truly comes down to research and preparation. Price points are best determined by looking at the competition. Winemakers and their representatives must have a unique, compelling story preparedone that makes the retailer and the customer feel a connection with a given brand. Representatives must arrive at each store with an understanding of what aspects of wine purchasing are important to that specific customer base. Keeping these things in mind will greatly increase a brands chances of edging out the international competition in the teeming and ever-changing U.S. market.    

USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now and get 30% off the Regular Exhibiting Fee.


Columbus Wine and Spirits

World class brand management of fine wines and spirits connecting distinctive producers with great distributors.

Their mission is to provide independent distributors nationwide a portfolio of sustainably produced, high quality, distinctive yet value-driven, artisan wines and spirits while providing superior marketing and sales support.Columbus_Wine_and_Spirits

Their team of creative, market-driven personnel draws upon decades of experience in wholesale wine and spirit sales, restaurant and marketing experience, making Columbus Wine and Spirits the organization of choice for high quality/high value producers that don’t have the staffing or resources to interface in multiple markets across the US.

With an understanding that comes with years of experience, Columbus Wine and Spirits provides the kind of support that distributors can depend upon to help their sales excel.

Their evolving portfolio of distinctive producers spans the globe from Spain and France to California and Washington with a focus on bringing outstanding value and quality to the market. They keep a keen eye towards developing new markets for their producers and finding new gems to bring to their distributors.


Their Domaine-based, cask-strength Bas-Armagnacs display both quality and personality.  Their wines come from properties that reflect the soil and familial nature of the producers, whether in Napa Valley or Ribera del Duero. You can rest assured that their producers represent the top tier of quality in each region that they represent.

In the end, it’s about their connecting the distinctive producers they represent and the great distributors that bring them to market!

Columbus Wine and Spirits Team

Columbus_Wine_and_SpiritsLarry Reiter – Founder & Business Development

Larry brings decades of industry experience in positions such as VP of Sales at Domaine Select Wine Estates, and 15 years with the Eber Brothers organization including the last five years as General Managers at Paramount Brands Off Premise Division in the NY Metro market.  Larry’s prior experience as the owner operator of Topper’s Restaurant provided a foundation in food, wine and spirits that allowed him to become a successful sales representative with Cazanovi-Opici when he sold his restaurant to allow time for his family.  A “foodie” with an orientation towards fresh, local products Larry keeps in touch with current food and beverage trends.

Larry is an active member of the Babylon Rotary Club, working to eliminate hunger and Illiteracy on a local level, and an avid supporter of The Wounded Warrior Project. He also recently completed his second running marathon, is an avid skier, loves swimming, cycling, cooking and growing vegetables for his family.

Columbus_Wine_and_SpiritsCassandra Esoff – Marketing & Compliance Assistant

Cassandra joins their team with a passion for defining food and wine pairings. She has years of restaurant experience, experimenting and elaborating on the pairing of food and wine and has completed the WSET Level II exam. Cassandra brings energy and enthusiasm to their team. A supporter of Long Island Cares, Cassandra is concerned with feeding those in need in her community. Cassandra is a budding author in her spare time.

Columbus_Wine_and_SpiritsRobyn Silvestri – Marketing Manager

Their Marketing/Web Specialist, Robyn Silvestri, brings 20+ years of experience in marketing and sales. With an advanced certificate in Wine & Spirits from the International Wine Center in New York, website development background, and multiple language skills, she supports their marketing and sales efforts in the field and interfaces with producers around the world.  A devoted wife and mother, Robyn also volunteers as the President of the Babylon K-6 PTA.

Columbus_Wine_and_SpiritsJohn Dorsey – Compliance and Logistics

With over two decades of experience in regulatory compliance and a long history in many other areas of the business, John is their resident compliance expert. He began his career in the industry as a warehousing/on-premise liaison for Premier/Gallo Wine, and worked his way to become Star Industries’ Compliance/Marketing Manager. A result-oriented professional with an entrepreneurial mindset, John went on to establish a compliance services company with affordable rates for small businesses in the wine and spirits market, Compliance Made Easy, Inc.

Columbus Wine and Spirits Portfolio

Rued Winery


In 1876, Henry Rued left his home in Switzerland and traveled to Northern California where he would take up employment planting grapes for the Beringer Brothers in Napa Valley.

Though a new country for Henry, it was not a new line of work. The Rueds were a grape growing family in Switzerland. And it wasn’t too long before Henry Rued planted his own grapes. In 1882 he put down his family’s roots, as well as grapevines, in Sonoma County.

Six generations and more than 125 years later, the Rued family continues to farm land throughout Sonoma county, cultivating wine grapes at their Home Estate in Dry Creek Valley as well as farming substantial tracks of land in Russian River Valley and Alexander Valley. And of course, they now produce handcrafted, small batch wines under their own label—they are the wines that define a family whose roots extend deep into Sonoma County history.

Sarah’s Vineyard


Located in Gilroy, California, the philosophy and dream of Sarah’s Vineyard brings together the world of fine wine, fine food, and fine arts. Founded in 1978 in a hidden corner of the southwestern Santa Clara Valley, Sarah’s Vineyard produces handmade wines using traditional techniques. The Santa Cruz Mountain foothills near a windy mountain pass afford Sarah’s Vineyard a coastal microclimate of foggy mornings, sunny afternoons tempered by strong ocean breezes and chilly nights that are ideal conditions for premium Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Rhone varietals.

Sarah’s Vineyard harvests various blocks in each vineyard based upon careful monitoring of grape sugar and acidity with a focus on the pH of the grapes. To insure the highest quality of fruit at the crush pad, all harvesting is done by hand from 6am til noon. Gentle destemming and sorting provides an output of perfect whole berries. Whole berry fermentation, with no crushing of berries or pumping of must, contributes to the high quality of their wines. Free run juice is aged separately from lightly pressed (1.6 bar) wine prior to blending and bottling. They use only French oak 228 liter barrels which are topped twice monthly in their humidity controlled barrel room. Bottling is done on premises using their own small fully automated bottling line, which includes nitrogen sparging and vacuum corking to limit oxygen pickup. Typically their wines receive six months to one year of bottle aging before release.

Domalne De Papolle


Historically important, the Domaine de Papolle can trace their roots back to the 17th century as the center of the community and as a producer of fine distilled spirits.  Today this unassuming estate takes its place amongst the top tier producers of Armagnac in the Bas-Armagnac region.

Typically no more than eight 400Liter barrels are produced each year.  A quantity somewhat less than commercial producers loose to evaporation in the barrel each year.  Age designated production is bottled at cask strength to maintain the character of the base spirit and allow the rich character of the Armagnac show through.

Tasting through the range of Armagnacs produced is an ethereal experience that allows one to see the evolution of the spirit from fruit driven to one whose floral components that emerge after a few years in wood, only in later stages to be eclipsed by the spice of the wood in harmony with the alcohol, the fruity and floral notes. The cellar current holds vintage selections from 1990 dating back to 1973 bottled to order on special request. The 1977 and 1990 are currently being inventoried in the USA at their exclusive importer Columbus Wine and Spirits.

 Bodegas Mocen Columbus_Wine_and_Spirits

The abandoned medieval cellars where wine used to age in the times of Catholic Kings and the discovery of America is at the heart of Bodegas Mocén. Purchased and restored along with 140 hectares of prime vineyard land in the D.O. Rueda by visionary restaurateur Jose Luis in 1988. After 25 years Mr. Luis is ready to introduce the American market to the high quality wines of Bodegas Mocén. 


  • O. Rueda 298 ha. between 740 – 760 meters  – high altitude provides good acidity
  • average vine age 27 years – mature vines provide depth and structure
  • typical vine spacing 1.5 meters x 3 meters  – close planting provides intensity of flavor
  • silt and sand with loose pebbles – plants drive deep roots providing minerality

Vineyard plantings are focused on tradition but balanced with innovation.

47% Verdejo – 13% Sauvignon Blanc – 7% Viura – 24%Tempranillo – 8% Cabernet – 1% Merlot

Extreme caution is employed at the winery to bring the harvest to the cellar door in the optimum condition. Night harvesting and no crushed fruit are used in the MOCÉN line of production.

Columbus Wine and Spirits Video

 Columbus Wine and Spirits Social Media Accounts:

Facebook | Twitter

USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now and get 30% off the Regular Exhibiting Fee.

What are Wine Distributors Really Looking for?

Get insights from Jim Ryan, SVP of the beer division of Constellation Brands, Giacomo Turone, VP of wine and spirits importer Palm Bay International and Scott Ades, CEO of The Winebow Group on what are wine distributors really looking for.


Want to hear more speakers like this?

USATT Conference 2018 will be live in New York City on May 16-17.

Learn from some of the most influential professionals in the beverage industry at the USA Trade Tasting educational conference. These presentations from industry leaders on today’s progressive ideas on marketing, sales and distribution will challenge and inspire you to grow your beverage company.

The conference will have TED-Style talks where speakers will give you an insight into the strategies and standards that the industry’s prominent thinkers are using to shape the marketplace around you.

Who are the Speakers?
Ranging from brand builders to marketing gurus, the educational conference is hosting remarkable experts who exhibit a truly heightened knowledge of the industry to give our visitors a clear understanding of the real life challenges that face them in the marketplace.

Who should attend?
Whether you are an importer, distributor, retailer, craft distillery, craft brewery or a boutique winery that’s just starting out, or work in sales with an importer/distributor or at an established beverage company, or simply wish to expand your skill set and gain a new perspective, USATT Conference is a must-attend event.

Join hundreds of fellow importers, distributors, winemakers, brewmasters, distillers, sales people and marketers at USA Trade Tasting Conference, designed to inspire and empower you with sales and marketing ideas—brought to you by Beverage Trade Network.

Event Producer: Beverage Trade Network

USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.


Learn more about – Preparation to Pitching : How to Get and Grow With Your Distributors By Adam Lambert (Seller of Beer & Spirits)

wine distributors

USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now and get 30% off the Regular Exhibiting Fee.

Get Ready for USA Trade Tasting 2017

USATT 2017If you’re hoping to grow your beverage brand by breaking into the U.S. market, your mission is twofold. First: get your product in front of distributors, retailers, and importers. Second: learn as much as you possibly can to fine-tune your marketing strategy, tweak your product and packaging, and craft your communication to importers and distributors.

The United States Trade Tasting Conference provides a platform for you to do it all. Held May 16th and 17th, 2017 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City, the show will bring together wineries, breweries, and distilleries with small- and medium-sized importers, retailers and distributors from the tri-state area, as well as press professionals. Brands that are hoping to grow their distribution in the U.S. will have a platform to show off their product, as well as network with others in the wine, beer, and spirits industry.

Brought to you by the Beverage Trade Network, the USATT 2017 will also feature talks by influential industry heavy-hitters, making it a great way to soak up knowledge from those who have figured out the formula for success in the beverage industry. From a lineup of presentations given by industry leaders at the conference to a Q & A session with experienced mentors, USATT is ideal for those who are serious about growing their brand.

Looking Back at 2016…

USATT 2017

The inaugural USA Trade Tasting Conference in 2016 was an immense success. It featured 180 exhibitors that included organizations from around the world. Wine brands from France, Italy, Australia, Portugal, and other leading wine-growing countries were featured. Attendees also got to taste and experience an assortment of spirits, craft beer, and cider brands. The response was immense, with over 2,000 people in attendance.

“We are extremely pleased with the response we’ve received from the exhibitor’s at USATT’s inaugural event,” said Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network and Director of USA Trade Tasting. “The quality of the exhibitors and the satisfaction of the visitors has set the bar extremely high for years to come.”

In addition to giving beverage brands the ability to exhibit their products and network, USATT 2016 featured the wildly popular Brand Pitch Sessions, which gave importers and distributors the chance to experience emerging brands that are entirely new to the U.S. market.

Attendees were also able to attend master classes on topics such as whisky, the wines of South Africa, as well as one presented by the New York Wines Organization.

Topping it all off was the BTN Educational Conference. Chock full of presentations by experts in beverage sales, distribution, and marketing, the conference hosted a wealth of information for companies determined to grow their brands.

…And Forward to 2017

The United States Trade Tasting Conference 2017 promises to be two days of learning experiences, buying, selling, networking with industry peers, and having fun. Here’s an overview of what you can expect from USATT 2017.

Grand Tasting 

The best way to introduce your product to buyers is by giving them a taste, so a presence at the USATT Grand Tasting is a must. Conference attendees will meet beverage innovators and get the chance to taste products from 132 tasting stations. Each setup includes all you need to conduct a tasting; simply bring your product, sample cups, a roll-up banner, and marketing materials to make your table your own. More details about the Grand Tasting are available here.


USATT 2017USATT is about more than just putting your product out there; it’s also about learning and gaining valuable insight from industry leaders.

The USA Trade Tasting Educational Conference features presentations on things like marketing, sales, and distribution.

From growing your brand to crafting the perfect marketing strategy, the content presented here will inspire you and help you see things from a new perspective. It will also give you the chance to network and exchange ideas with others in the industry. Follow this link to find out more about the USATT Educational Conference.

USATT Show Deals

USATT Show Deals are the two-day only discounts from USATT Exhibitors for attendees of the show from the beverage industry. These are buying opportunities for distributors, importers, retailers, and brokers to get real savings with specials and deals offered only at USATT 2017. These offers are limited to USA Trade Tasting attendees and can be redeemed on the trade show floor, 11:00 am – 6:00 pm on May 16 and May 17, 2017.

Office Hours  

USATT 2017

USATT’s Office Hours is a Q & A session with speakers and mentors who can give you valuable advice on how to best market your new brand. They’ll help you understand things from the perspective of importers and distributors, explaining expectations for new brands and how you can best make an impression during your introductory communication with them. Learning from experienced mentors who can show you the ropes and help you avoid pitfalls is priceless when you’re starting out in the beverage industry. Let them show you the path to success.

USATT 2017

Register Now to be a Part of USATT 2017!

If you’re a domestic or international winery, a craft brewery, or a distillery who would like to meet with and get your product in front of U.S. distributors, retailers, and representatives from the press, USATT is the ideal opportunity for you to do so. It’s also an invaluable source of beverage industry education that can help you create a strategy to get ahead and grow your brand faster. Whether you wish to trade, network, or educate yourself, check out the USATT website for more details on attending and exhibiting.

Event Producer: Beverage Trade Network

USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.
USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now and get 30% off the Regular Exhibiting Fee.

How to Get on the Radar Screen of a Wine Distributor or Importer?

At the Conference Sessions for USATT, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in March 2016, there was a Panel that comprised of Jim Ryan, SVP of the beer division of Constellation Brands, Giacomo Turone, VP of wine and spirits importer Palm Bay International and Scott Ades, CEO of The Winebow Group. They were asked questions relevant to the attending audience comprising of distributors, importers, retailers and producers of alcoholic beverages.

Please read below, one of the questions that was put forth to the panel and their answers.

 QUESTION: “People obviously want to talk to you (as importers or distributors), so how do they get through the firewalls you put up? You’re hammered by phone calls, you can’t take everyone’s call, what can they do?”

 In today’s hyper-competitive market environment, importers and distributors are deluged by calls, as wine brands of all sizes try all types of tactics to get distribution within the all-important U.S. marketplace. So what can these brands really do to capture the attention of importers and distributors?

Scott Ades, CEO of The Winebow Group, suggests that the only way to get noticed is a combination of persistence and creativity. The other trick, he says, is to show importers that you’ve been getting a lot of press and media attention. That will sometimes open the door, since most importers are looking for emerging trends and unknown brands they can turn into a success.

USATT Panel Discussion

The participants of the recent panel discussion at the USATT Conference 2016 agreed, though, that it’s somewhat of a chicken-or-the-egg problem. How do you prove you’re a commercial success before you’re a commercial success? You need to start generating numbers that excite people, and you need to start getting trade media attention. If you can get a few articles written about you, you can tell other people about it.

Jim Ryan, a SVP with the beer division of Constellation Brands, says that smaller bands have to be “tenacious.” You have to be willing to try again and again, until you get a positive response. It also helps to attend industry events, since those are places where you can get face-to-face meetings and set up a display for people to learn about you. He stresses on the importance of being able to pour your product, sample them and speak to potential distributors and importers in a face to face setting. This really helps to make a connection rather than continuing to make cold calls over the phone.

Ultimately, though, finding the importer is not the end, it’s just the start for a new wine brand. They still need a sales solution, a marketing solution and a distribution solution. Too often, they turn to “brand ambassadors” and other “feet on the street” to build the brands. But that’s rarely scalable, and it’s also very expensive.

Giacomo Turone, a VP with the wine and spirits importer Palm Bay International, agrees. He says that brand ambassadors can get spread out too far. And half of their expenses are related to things like meals, hotels and plane trips – activities that are not helping to build the brand. Smaller brands need to focus on scaling, on growing and showing how they are unique within the marketplace. The best way to do that is for the brand owner – such as the founder of the business – to take a more visible role.

Ades also suggests that brands do some careful consideration of their business model and pricing. If you start with a price too low, you can never go higher. The price needs to be a realistic price that will fund your operations going forward. Given the costs of building a brand, Ades says that it’s better to invest in a brand without a brand ambassador.

Putting up real numbers is often the way to get the attention of any importer or distributor. And better yet if you can show velocity or momentum, in the form of sales that are increasing rapidly on a quarterly basis. That’s the best way to build a small brand from the ground up when you may have little initial volume. Thus don’t focus on the level of your sales – focus on the momentum and pace of those sales.

Hear the answer to this question at 22:27 minutes

Event Producer: Beverage Trade Network

USA Trade Tasting is brought to you by Beverage Trade Network, the leading online platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. Beverage Trade Network (BTN) successfully connects wineries, breweries, distilleries and brand owners with international importers, distributors, brokers and beverage industry professionals on a daily basis. Strong partnerships with international and US organizations have helped BTN establish USA Trade Tasting as a premiere sales and marketing event committed to connecting the beverage industry.
USA Trade Tasting 2018 Exhibitor Registrations Now Open.Become an Exhibitor Now and get 30% off the Regular Exhibiting Fee.