There are a few reasons for that. The biggest one, is that for many larger chains, they want your wine to be available in every market that they have stores. For a winery making even 15,000 cases of wine per year, that’s virtually impossible.
It also leads to the huge number of generic and IMO, crappy wine lists.
There is a hybrid approach, one that’s been taken by Whole Foods on a national level. To start, every store carries a base selection of wines, which are available nationally. However, they then split up their markets into smaller sub sections, like Northern and Southern California as an example. If you wanted to get your wine onto store shelves in Northern California, there is a buyer that would need to approve it and get it onto their larger list….after that you’re free to pitch the stores that you wish. Overall, it keeps some consistency, important to most chain stores, but also allows for local tastes to take hold.
This all came to mind, because as consumers we’re about to see a second winery(L’Ecole is national by any and all accounts) from the Pacific Northwest finally take the leap and achieve some greater level of national recognition.
K Vintners aka Charles Smith Wines (they have a few other labels as well) has hired the Mark Wine Group to represent them with the goal of gaining a larger number of national accounts.
K Vintners makes some pretty amazing wine and offers a model that I really, really like. Production sizes large enough to gain national attention on the lower end of the price spectrum, but still offering a range of really high quality single vineyard wines for those whom are interested.
We had featured a couple of their wines a few years back in our Explorations Wine Club, before their production really spiked up and probably can’t go back there again, but getting the general public and average consumer more aware of Washington wine is a good thing for us and definitely for the wider wine industry.