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Wineries Blueprint: Successful On-Premise Wine Distribution!

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25/11/2019 The following has been sourced from an informative podcast series sponsored by Sommeliers Choice Awards.

There are several ways to propel your on-premise wine distribution and push sales, but before you begin to do that, It is necessary that your marketing understanding is bifurcated for two main categories, i.e.,

Casual dining restaurants

Casual dining chains focus on wine which may be sold for a price of less than 60 dollars that its patrons are ordering frequently.  The expected rate of velocity of distribution in a casual dining chain must be atleast a case month.

Fine dining restaurants

Fine dining restaurants emphasise on depth and diversity of the selection as much as higher price points of as much as $500 per bottle.

There are two kinds of restaurant lists

Controlled wine list

Restaurants following a controlled wine list are regulated by a corporate headquarter which mandates wine lists and restaurants have no option follow the approved list.

Semi-controlled wine list

Individual restaurants have the power and authority to approve wines; these wines when accepted are added to the master database at the corporate headquarters.  When your sales are strong enough at one place, it will then put you in radar of a national restaurant chain for possible expansion. Hence semi-controlled wine lists are more preferable since it is much easier to pitch to a local establishment that might already be aware of your wines.

Keeping the above in mind, now we may further discuss on how to create a successful on-premise distribution:

1. Natural fits

Wines are several times differentiated with wines by origin, and hence at a casual Italian restaurant, serving an Italian wine varietal would be a natural fit.  Similarly a steakhouse chain would work naturally with a steakhouse red wine.

Casual chains will invest only on those wine varietals that they’re consumers already know, which would further classify into what are they currently drinking from what they already know.

2. Potential prospects will include restaurants that have the following qualities:

► For casual dining restaurants

Significant foot traffic

Outdoor dining areas

Private dining room for parties and banquets

Geographical proximity to the city centre or traffic tourist attractions

► For fine dining restaurants

Qualities of the restaurant

Large wine lists

Frequent wine events like theme wine dinners

Celebrity chef or sommelier on staff


Listen to the podcast here


3. Competitive business advantage

There are still plenty of opportunities out there if you know where to look. Restaurants view you as a business partner, they view you as a source of their own competitive business advantage.

It would become your responsibility to sell their wine if you want to continue selling your wine to them. You can help them by providing them insights and tools to:

Sell more wine overall

Encourage patrons to order more expensive bottles of wines

Maximize guest satisfaction and loyalty

Your USP could deliver on any of these goals and they will put you on their menu.

4. Ask yourself these questions

Can you provide numbers and research to prove that your wines are at a hot category or they’re experiencing a surge in sales popularity?

Can you offer premium or exclusive bottles not found anywhere else?

Can you provide a customer service that guarantees a happy customer every time?

5. Restaurant wine manager complaints

► Supply Failure

The wine industry cardinal rule is to never ever fail on supply for on-premise market. The best that will happen is you will only lose that account for ever. The worst could be you losing your accounts if the word spreads.

► Price is the price, don’t change it from what it was quoted at the outset

Price fluctuations can affect your reputation in unimaginable ways, it is best to stick to your words.

► Common instance of bottle variation or vintage variation is going to raise a red flag

Seeing all these common complaints as opportunities to prove your worth is something that will certainly give you a successful on-premise distribution.

If you can provide a reliable, uninterrupted supply of wines on a national basis, you will have ears of the wine managers.

If you gain a reputation for dependability and track record of fixing problems for even before they occur then you will have ears of wine mangers.

Emphasis on customer service doesn’t end there,

- The kind of promotional and brand building services you offer will matter. For example, wine dinners, staff education and training, marketing and brand support for the wine program.

- Help the restaurant for all their financial goals, which means your brand is high velocity and high volume

- Showing restaurant patrons are ordering your wine; restaurant manager will order more of your wine.

- Align your strategic goals with those of the on-premise establishment.

“I ended up becoming the problem solver of the wine industry after cutting 8 million dollars of costs of the wine fraternity only by solving a problem that the big boys couldn’t. This brought me one my biggest accounts while working at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel putting out 50 cases a week”

– Tim Hanni MW

This clearly goes to show that even if you are a Ritz-Carlton, the only way that you are going to score a big account is by adding business value to your client in the competitive industry of beautiful wines.


Sommeliers Choice Awards gathers the top wine restaurant buyers, Master Sommeliers, wine directors who have a direct influence on the US on-premise market.

Put your wines in front of them and get rated by Food Parability, Typicity, Value, Quality, and Package.

If you're looking to get in front of the top sommeliers and on-premise wine buyers of the USA, now is the best time to enter your wines. Save up to $50 per wine.

SCA Entry Process & Fees

Deadline For Submission Is Approaching Fast.

Leading wine brands from around the world now have an opportunity to grow their business and gain the attention of wine buyers, wine directors and influencers within the U.S. on-premise industry. Time to submit your wines in the 2020 Sommeliers Choice Awards.