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International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show Helps U.S. Buyers and Sellers Navigate the Bulk Wine Market

The International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show was the first-ever bulk and private label wine and spirits event in San Francisco, California

06/08/2017

Hundreds of wineries, distilleries, importers, distributors, retailers and wine industry experts met in San Francisco for the debut of the highly anticipated International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show on July 26-27. At the event, attendees learned about the latest trends in bulk wine and spirits, including the recent emergence of private labels as a point of competitive differentiation within the wine industry.

The main theme of the event was learning how to build and grow a bulk wine, bulk spirits or private label business. To make that possible, the International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show (IBWSS) included two full days of presentations, workshops, master classes, and panel discussions.

Presentations covered subjects such as “10 Points You Need To Include In Private Label, Bulk Wine and Spirits Distribution Agreements,” “How Current Grape Supply and Demand Affects You” and “How Retailers and Restaurants Can Grow Their Private Label Business.” The goal was for participants to walk away with actionable insights on how to grow their business.

Speakers at the event included Deborah Parker Wong, a wine industry journalist and judge; Donna Hartman, an attorney with OlenderFeldman LLP; wine expert Tim Hanni MW; Steve Fredericks, President of Turrentine Brokerage; Nat DiBuduo, President of Allied Grape Growers; Earl Hewlette, CEO of Terressentia Corporation; Chris Mehringer, President of Park Street; Bob Paulinski MW, Head of Sourcing Wine at Coles Liquor Group; Damien Wilson, Chair of Wine Business Education; John Beaudette, President and CEO of MHW, Ltd., Jeff Hansen of AH Wines and Thomas Barfoed, Managing Director of JF Hillebrand USA.

Given the relative newness of the bulk and private label wine industry within the U.S. market, one major theme of the event was clearing away any myths and misperceptions of the industry. On Day 1, Tim Hanni focused on debunking many of the myths that have grown up around the bulk wine industry. And, on Day 2, Damien Wilson of Wine Business Education emphasized that consumers love bulk wines – it’s just a matter of navigating all the obstructions in the distribution channels that currently favor cheaper wines over fine wines. It’s no longer the case, said Wilson, that it’s impossible to find great quality bulk wines.

“One important goal of this event was to open up new opportunities for participants who might not know much about the bulk wine market,” said Malvika Patel of Beverage Trade Network, the organizer of the event. “Judging by the nearly 90 exhibitors on the trade show floor at the South Francisco Conference Center, it’s clear that this is really a growing trend that people need to know more about.” Exhibitors at the IBWSS came from the United States, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

As the speakers at the IBWSS event made clear, there are many different ways to get involved in the bulk wine industry. Chris Mehringer, President of Park Street, even pointed out how companies could create a new private label brand without a distillery using an “asset-light” strategy, while Bob Paulinski MW, Head of Sourcing Wine at Coles Liquor Group, explained how participants could create a successful brand for their retail store or restaurant.

There were several workshops, as well, that helped participants understand how to get involved on a hands-on basis. On Day 1, noted winemaker Clark Smith led a master class on “Postmodern winemaking” that focused on a new type of relationship between winemaker and wine drinker, while later in the day, Steve Burch of Radoux USA highlighted the new opportunities available within the bulk spirits industry. Consumers are always on the search for something new, he said, and that’s exactly what bulk spirits brands can provide, whether it’s a new apertif or a new sangria.

“The bulk wine and spirits industry is really more global than many people realize,” pointed out Malvika Patel of Beverage Trade Network. “So we really wanted to emphasize the international aspect of the industry by bringing in as many diverse exhibitors as possible.”

It’s now the case, for example, that a California winemaker can create a new custom wine specifically for the Chinese market. In a workshop on Day 2, Jeff Hansen of AH Wines led participants thoroughly exactly such a scenario. He offered some simple advice: “Sell it first, produce it second.” In other words, make sure you have a market for your wines before you start producing them. Within any new market, consumer tastes are different, so it’s up to the winemaker to experiment with the right grapes to create the desired wine at the end.

That was a theme echoed in another workshop led by Jose Santos of Enartis USA, who used the term “perfect blend” to describe what winemakers are after – once they create this “perfect blend,” it’s much easier to navigate the modern supply chain and get all the economic incentives of the various players aligned.

And what about shipping wines to far-flung markets like Asia? That’s not as much of a problem as one might think, explained Thomas Barfoed, Managing Director of JF Hillebrand USA. In his presentation, titled “How to optimize shipments of bulk wines and spirits and save,” he outlined the key logistical aspects to keep in mind in order to optimize a supply chain. For small wineries, logistics may not be a major concern, but at a certain size, optimization becomes a major priority.

In addition, on Day 1 of the event, Gordon Burns of ETS Laboratories went into detail about the role of Certificates of Analysis (COAs) in international trade. Many people are put off by what they perceive as all the COAs required to enter a new market. But as Burns pointed out, most of the today’s COAs are not really required for health and safety reasons, they are really a response to ingrained habits that importers and shippers already have.

As the first event of its kind in California, this year’s IBWSS helped to raise the profile of the bulk and private label wine and spirits industry within the United States. With such a variety of exhibitors and participants at the debut of this event, there are already plans to hold a second IBWSS in summer 2018.

Testimonials:

Danny Saltzman from Breakthru Beverage Group mentioned that it was “Great execution and overall conference so far.  I am certainly excited for tomorrow’s agenda.”

Gary from Agajanian Vineyards and Wine company mentioned that the buyers that they have met at #ibwss17 knew exactly what they wanted, they came with a precise need and it was good to talk to them. It's been a great show for them so far!

Bree Boskov MW from Oregon Wine: IBWSS was an insightful conference, especially regarding the premiumization of high-quality grapes and wine.

What our exhibitors had to say-

“Quick connections to companies in need of bulk wine.”

“We met good quality buyers. Good representation in all the categories we were looking for - bulk, bottle and brand”

“Lots of industry members interested in sourcing high-quality bulk wines.”

“Congrats!! Very good show.”

About the IBWSS

The International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show is an annual trade show and conference, open to trade professionals only, which takes place in San Francisco. IBWSS attendees include wineries, distilleries, importers, distributors, national and regional chains, and brokerage firms.

About Beverage Trade Network

Beverage Trade Network is the leading platform dedicated to connecting the global beverage industry. In addition to San Francisco, Beverage Trade Network also hosts events in London, Australia, and New York.

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