In some conversations, the
price of a bottle of wine is the hot topic....
By Dianne Boate and Robert Meyer
First it was Los Angeles. Then New
Orleans. Las Vegas, Orlando, San Francisco, and Boston followed.
Every year I trailed along, being more interested in going to the
city than the reason for going there: the annual Wine and Spirits
Wholesalers of America (WSWA) convention. I had a dim perception
then of what it was all about, being dazzled by the big parties and
unending array of hospitality rooms serving every kind of alcoholic
beverage being produced, but I do know that networking opportunities
with people from all over the world yielded us some very interesting
wine and spirits adventures here in the United States, in Europe,
Australia, South America, and South Africa.
The WSWA is celebrating its 60th
anniversary this year. " Attendance and hospitality is not what
it used to be," Robert reports upon return from Orlando, where
this yearís event took place. It is a bit of the same story in
many industries: travel fears, current economy, the war. However,
about 1,000 stalwart souls braved everything to attend seminars,
meetings, and every sublime activity of schmoozing.
The program guide states: "The
goals of the Convention are to provide a forum for business and to
broaden communications networks, sharpen managerial skills and
improve knowledge of issues, products, and trends affecting the
beverage alcohol industry." Jan Wells, vice president of
marketing with Cannon Wines Limited in San Francisco, translated
this for me recently. He has been going to the WSWA for 11 years. He
lauds the convention for listening to the needs of the younger
generation coming up through the ranks of the business--holding
shorter meetings, allowing more casual attire, choosing venues where
the whole family can come and be entertained while the Man or the
Woman of the house does business. He told me, " It is tough for
new people to come in and catch the eye ( or taste) of a distributor
with their products for business expansion. The companies who have
been in the fold for years still come because you cannot discount
the significant value of traditional relationships--a very important
factor of continuing business in a financial climate that runs hot
I was thinking about why you would
want to know about this.
Because what goes on here helps shape the experiences you will have
in a restaurant, in buying a bottle of wine, in celebrating an
occasion, perhaps deciding where to go on vacation, and even making
a career change into the industry. Itís big, Baby. It makes the
decisions of what brands to carry and of those, which ones are
promoted. Like other commodities you buy, you want a product that
really tastes good; you want it to be available to you; you want the
price to be right for your pocketbook. The ever expanding universe
does not stop in the sky. It invades every market place, flooding us
all with more choices than we can handle, so the key is learning to
make decisions that enhance your lifestyle.
This organization works to make this
all happen. If you want some meat for dinner, you donít make a
phone call and have a cow delivered to your door.