Private Label Wine Business in USA

The growing US private label market offers European producers a chance to sell wine in the biggest wine-consuming country in the world, not only reaching a new market but also possibly getting better margins. But, as with all things US wine-related, creating private labels means negotiating the three-tier system that regulates US wine distribution – each of the 50 states has its own laws, and there are sometimes even different laws within a state.

In addition, the private label system – that is, the creation of wines that are exclusive to one retailer or restaurant – can be almost as complicated as the three-tier system. Not only are there two major kinds of private label, there are also several legal and supply chain hurdles to overcome to do it successfully.

Still, say those who do private label, it can work and benefit producers. “You have to be willing to be flexible,” says Jean Hoefliger, a Swiss native who is the winemaker at California’s Alpha Omega, as well as a consultant who has worked with private label on both sides. “You have to be willing to understand how the US market is different, on how the system works, and what retailers are looking for.”

What is private label?

Private label wine, also called ‘store label’, is a brand that is created for, and sold exclusively by, one retailer and can’t be found anywhere else. It may carry the name of the retailer – which is common in Britain, but less so in the US – or a name devised for that retailer. The two best-known private labels in the US are Kirkland, which is sold only at the Costco warehouse chain, and Charles Shaw, the legendary ‘Two Buck Chuck’, available only at the Trader Joe’s specialty grocery chain.

Traditionally, private label was only for retailers, but the growth of large regional and national restaurant chains in the US has created a demand for private label on-premise as well.

The other thing to know? There are two kinds of private labels – control, or exclusive brands, and traditional private label brands. In the former, the producer owns the label, and can sell it to any retailer it wants. The Charles Shaw wines are control brands, since its producer, Bronco Wine Company, owns the label. Costco’s Kirkland is a traditional private label, where the retailer buys wine from a variety of producers and sells it under a name that it owns.

Each approach has its advantages. Owning the brand allows the producer to make the best deal it can, and to shop the label if it doesn’t like the current deal. But working on a private label with a big retailer offers stability and predictable sales. In this, says Gary Glass, president of the Parducci-owned Mendocino Wine Co in Ukiah, California, it’s not one size fits all. Each producer has to decide what works best for it; if it doesn’t want to worry about marketing, then traditional private label works better, for instance.

For some producers, it’s so worthwhile that they specialise exclusively in private label; they buy bulk wine or juice and then package it for the retailer, based on the retailer’s requirements. Or they put together a private label program and pitch it to a retailer or restaurant chain. The system also works the other way. Costco, for instance, contracts with producers to make wine for its Kirkland brand, and looks for specific varietals and regions of the world.

Even small wineries make private label. About 15% of the 5,000-case Brooklyn Oenology, a small New York City producer, goes to private label. Owner Alie Shaper says she works with local retailers and restaurants, who don’t need to buy enough wine to interest a bigger producer, but do want to do private label.

Growth of the market

The private label market is growing quickly, though it still isn’t as established as it is in Britain or used as often as it is in other US consumer categories. John Bratcher, a long-time retailer, wine broker, and winery sales executive in Austin, Texas, says: “It has picked up over the last 15 years, and really accelerated over the past five years.  The idea is that, with the expanding wine market in the US and more retailers, more retailers want to sell something that consumers can’t buy anywhere else.”

One difficulty with tracking private label in the US is that many retailers are reluctant to identify their wines as private label. Kroger, the $110bn grocery store chain, sells several private label wines under names such as Parkers Estate. This is such a common practice that Nielsen, which tracks grocery store wine sales, has a difficult time estimating the extent of private label sales in the US.

The Total Wine & More chain, with 135 stores in 18 states, and BevMo!, with 158 stores on the west coast, have a heavy focus on private label. After speaking with a number of private label producers, it appears that as much as 20% of the wine sold at the largest national supermarkets could be store brands; at some retailers, it may be as high as 40%.

The reason is not hard to find. The margins on private label wines are simply better – often double that of branded wines – and they also offer the retailer exclusive products. As important as margins are, that exclusivity matters, too. Retail competition in the US is more intense that it has ever been, as chains like Total Wine & More expand and supermarkets like Kroger boost their wine sections. This means that smaller retailers, in particular, are looking for something to sell that the bigger retailers don’t carry.

So what works in private label?

“Retailers always tell you that they want the best quality private label, but so many other things go into it,” says James Gunter, who owns Wines With Conviction, a wholesaler and distributor in Dallas who has worked with private label for years. “Where are they trying to slot the private label? What pricing do they want?”

Does the retailer want control or traditional private label? What grapes? Does it need a private label to compete with a national brand? To fill a certain space on the shelf, be it a category like red blends or a specific region? Does the retailer have a particular demographic in mind?

Retailers are more likely to use well-known international grapes for private label, rather than regions or more unusual grapes.  This doesn’t mean there isn’t a market for Rhone wines, or for French, Italian, and Spanish varietals, but that it’s often an uphill battle trying to make private label wines from them. Retailers are a little more open than used to be, says Gunter, but it still isn’t easy.

As to how to get into the market, while referrals happen, Glass of Mendocino Wine says cold-calling is vital. His company uses a pitch book with sample labels that include the name of the wine, the price point and the wine blend. This gives retailers “the look and feel” of what they might finally see on their shelf; a retailer who wants a $20.00 red blend or an $18.00 Chardonnay will be able to see a product mockup.

What the label looks like is crucial, says winemaker Hoefliger: “This is something that is difficult for Europeans to understand,” he says, adding that the wine is sometimes less important than the name and the label. “Don’t be surprised if you spend 70% of the cost of developing the private label on that part of it.”

That’s why Gunter says it’s important to find an importer with private label experience. The importer will better know which retailers are looking for a private label, what wine they’re looking for, and who makes the decisions. “I’ve wasted a lot of time with teams of salesmen over the years,” says Gunter, “but they weren’t anyone who could make a decision. Find the decision maker, and have a clean conversation.”

In three-tier, every wine sold to a retailer or restaurant must go through a distributor. This means that almost every private label wine, even if it’s 100% exclusive, still has to be distributed through a wholesaler to the retailer or restaurant. This isn’t as much of a problem when dealing with a big retailer, since the retailer’s wholesaler will probably be happy to take the wine to keep the retailer happy. But it can be problematic when selling to a smaller retailer and there isn’t enough volume to interest larger wholesalers.

Labels must also be approved by the US government, and some states require that wine goes through their own label approval process. In both cases, an experienced importer can help navigate the legal challenges.

Is it worth it?

Producer margins on private label wines can be much better than on branded wines – 50% to 55% compared to the more usual 30% to 35%, says Texas retailer Bratcher.

Here, as in so many other areas, says Glass, one size does not fit all.  Producers may have to sacrifice margin to get a retailer’s business, and larger retailers may offer lower margins in any case, because they do more volume or are using the private label to undercut a rival’s brand. Hence, producers need to be flexible and willing to work with the retailer on price and margin, particularly when it comes to their first contract. Once the first private label wines are on the shelves and selling, they will hopefully prove themselves and be a key to future business.

– Jeff Siegel

Source : Meininger’s Wine Business International.

International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show (IBWSS) Visitor registrations are now open. Get Your Visitors Trade Pass Now. 


CBI Market channels and segments: Wine in the United Kingdom


Wine trade in the United Kingdom (UK) is dominated by supermarkets, which increasingly sell private labels and import bulk wine from developing countries to save costs. Reaching this channel can best be done through an importer, mitigating your risks of dealing directly with supermarkets. At the same time, opportunities can increasingly be found for low-volume suppliers, at the emerging independent specialists.

Trade channels

The trade channels for wine in the UK are presented in Figure 1. A further explanation of the channels can be found under Annex 1.

Figure 1: Trade channels for wine in the UK

Buyer concentration makes long-term relationship important

The UK market has a small number of large wine buyers. The off-trade (around 10 supermarket chains and speciality shops) dominates wine sales. Supermarkets have become very competitive in the field of wine in order to attract more consumers. Some of them focus on the premium segment, such as Waitrose, while others focus on low-priced bulk wines. All of them run frequent promotions which bring down the prices of wines. The big players have also established their own private labels, which have grown in popularity and are regarded as labels of quality. This dominant position of supermarkets is expected to strengthen further in the coming years.


– Be consistent and trustworthy in your supply quality and quantity. Make sure your wine is always available; once buyers need to go elsewhere they do not come back.

– Engage in a long-term partnership with a UK importer or bottler, where you develop a buyer’s own brand, in order to split risks and profit more equally.

Independents offer opportunities for small-volume suppliers

Independent wine merchants, as opposed to larger specialist retail chains, are emerging in the UK wine market. They can differentiate themselves more, thereby addressing the consumers’ growing interest in wine. They are finding new customer bases, are building a more attractive assortment compared to supermarkets and have an innovative marketing and client approach. For example, they organise in-store wine tastings and winemaker events. The number of independent retailers in the UK has increased by 50% since 2007 to approximately 750 stores, excluding large retail chains (Decanter 2014). Specialist retail chains, as opposed to independents, are actually losing market share. The near bankruptcy of retail chain Oddbins is illustrative of this development. Their shops decreased in number from 278 in the late 1980s to 37 in 2012.


  • Develop a unique selling point, like unusual origins, varieties, production/region stories, sustainability/organic or Fair trade certification.
  • Branding is very important in the premium segment in the UK.
  • Independent wine merchants can best be reached through an importer specialized in the off-trade.

Economic recovery: switching back to on-trade consumption

The economic crisis led to a significant decline in wine consumption in the UK, and a switch to the off-trade segment. Consuming wine at home saves costs. As the economy and consumer purchasing power grows again, the on-trade sector is recovering. Sales in restaurants, hotels and bars will increase. Exporters in developing countries can respond to this trend by focusing their distribution strategy on importers specialized in supplying on-trade channels.


In times of economic adversity, more opportunities can be found in the off-trade sector. In contrast, in times of economic prosperity, opportunities in the on-trade increase.

Online sales

Online sales in the off-trade account for 11% of the market in the UK, ahead of the average for European countries (The Drinks Business 2015). In general, retailers with physical stores lead the development of online sales. Consumers need to know the retailer before they will rely on the information provided in the webshop. Nonetheless, many small premium wine importers without physical stores offer their wines through a webshop too. Premium wines sell well online as consumers are willing to pay more for a less common wine which they cannot buy at the supermarket. Read more on online sales in the CBI Product Factsheet: Online sales of wine in Europe.


  • If you supply small volumes of premium wine, find an importer with a webshop which offers wines from original locations.
  • Webshops are particularly interesting retail channels for premium wines from developing countries, as they offer space to provide product information, such as a story about the history of the winery.

Segmentation of wine

The segmentation of the UK wine market is presented in figure 2. A further explanation of the figure can be found under Annex 2.

Figure 2 Market segments for wine in the UK, including indication of share in sales per segment and average retail price per bottle

Growing imports of bulk wine offer opportunities for high-volume suppliers

The UK increasingly imports bulk wine. The benefits of importing in bulk are many, but require a producer to be able to export large volumes of wine because a wine flexi-tank holds the equivalent of 32,000 bottles. This method reduces transport costs, delays the start of a wine’s shelf-life, and reduces the risk of damage to the bottles. The increased sales of private-label wines also stimulates bulk wine imports. However, the threat of being substituted is significant. It is therefore recommended to have a diversified client portfolio.

When supplying bulk wine you can target a supermarket, which you can target directly or via an importer, although retailers often use an importer in this case. The retailer or importer then bottles the wine in the UK. Supplying bulk wine directly to supermarkets is difficult, making an importer a more suitable channel. Listing fees and necessary promotions are financially problematic, making it difficult for a developing country exporter to successfully target this channel. Working with supermarkets therefore requires good price calculations and involves high risks, as the sales quantities are not guaranteed.


  • When supplying bulk wine, you can only target supermarkets. The latter require large volumes against a relatively low price.
  • Importers can play a role in protecting producers from the high risks involved when trading with one big buyer, by spreading sales and to help with their understanding of supermarket requirements.

Continuity in supply is of crucial importance to the bulk buyers.

Strong middle segment

In contrast to many other European markets, the middle segment in the UK is strong. In the past decade, especially in the period of affluence before the economic crisis, the average quality of wines on the UK market has improved considerably. Only consumers that are sensitive to price points still buy simple table wine. Many other consumers do not accept the quality of wines in this low-end segment anymore. Instead, they purchase wines in the medium to sub-premium segment. This segment, consisting primarily of branded wines, is actually growing.

Particularly empty nesters, whose children have grown up and left the house, and people who have retired are good target groups for (sub-) premium wine.


  • If the quality of your wine is considered to be moderate, improve the quality before trying to enter the British market or focus on supplying bulk wine.

Read the CBI Product Factsheet: Premium wine in the United Kingdom for more information on the respective market segment.

Differentiation in private labels

Retailers increasingly carry different private labels. As the share of private labels in total wine sales increases, from 26% in 2010 to 33% in 2012 (Wine Business International, 2013), the need for such differentiation also increases. In 2013, private labels accounted for 35.5% of still wine sales and 45% of sparkling wine sales in the UK (Harpers 2014). Commonly, private labels refer to the name of the retailer, such as ‘Tesco South African White Wine’. Retailers mostly position these private label wines, which are often made of relatively cheap bulk wines, in the low-end market segment. In addition to these cheap private label wines, retailers are also developing premium private label wines, such as ‘Tesco finest’ and private labels which do not carry the name of the retailer on the front. In the latter case, retailers develop a brand which cannot be recognised by consumers as a brand (i.e. private label) of the retailer. Only the label on the back of the bottle includes a reference to the retailer, as the owner of the brand.

Retailers will increasingly take control of the branding of wines, as it offers them several advantages. First and foremost, it gives them greater control over their supply chains, because they can switch between suppliers if needed. As long as the flavour profile of the total wine blend remains similar, they can change individual wines in their blend. Secondly, retailers can add value by branding and have all the resources they need to build strong brands.


  • Supplying wine for private labels is particularly interesting for exporters whose activities focus on viticulture and wine-making. The supply of wine for private labels offers an opportunity to direct all resources towards the improvement of production, whether in terms of quality or quantity.
  • Supplying wine for private labels is only interesting for relatively large exporters, as retailers with private labels require large volumes, especially in the low-end market segment.
  • Mix private label wine supplies with branded wine supplies to remain an interesting partner for retailers, while also adding value through your own brand.

Comparing segments of promising export markets

Match your wine with the most suitable export market. Table 1 provides some insight into which product options are appreciated in each of the selected promising export markets.

For more detailed information on specific segments, please read the CBI PFS for Organic Wine in Europe, CBI Product Factsheet: Bulk wine in Europe or CBI Product Factsheet: Online wine sales in Europe.

Table 1 Matching your product with a promising wine market in the EU/EFTA

Annex 1: Explanation of trade channels in Figure 1

Cash and carries are a type of wholesaler that supplies the on-trade sector. They sell wines from their warehouse where customers pay on the spot (i.e. cash) and carry the goods away themselves. Developing country exporters which produce (smaller volumes of) higher quality wine, or fairly unknown/speciality types of wine can target the on-trade sector and thereby choose for a cash & carry to reach this segment.

Agents are independent companies who negotiate on behalf of their clients and act as intermediaries between buyer and seller. Agents do not take ownership of the products, nor keep stock. The commission of a sales agent varies from 3-5% for large volume supplies to 10% for smaller quantities. Agents are still active in the UK market, but their role is diminishing.

The traditional role of agents to source the best quality wines, manage logistics and help with the management of the product itself has shifted over the years. Currently, only the agents who are worth their margin and can justify themselves to retailers, succeed. Agents are still necessary because large off-trade channels, such as supermarkets, do not always have enough staff for sourcing activities. The agent’s role is to connect the retailer to new producers. Agents in the UK usually make strategic alliances with selected producers, in order to form shorter value and supply chains. Agencies often opt to become brand owners or co-owners of vineyards; this simplifies the value chain, while making the product more credible.

Importers: Developing country exporters which produce smaller volumes of wine, higher quality wine, or fairly unknown types of wine are advised to use an importer/distributor to enter the UK wine market. Importers can advise exporters on many issues, including legal and quality requirements, market trends and packaging.

Importers buy goods, of which they then take ownership and distribute to retailers, the on-trade sector, or re-export them to other countries. Importers are either specialised in selling to the on-trade sector, or the off-trade sector. Retailers often use an importer for less known wines, since importers then take care of the quality control. Importers generally add a mark-up to cover commissions, credit risk, after-sales service and the cost of carrying a local inventory to meet small orders. Their margin ranges from 15-25% of the selling price.

Regional wholesaler: A regional wholesaler serves as an intermediary between an importer and the on-trade sector. Developing country exporters, therefore, do not get involved with this channel directly. Although regional wholesalers remain an important channel in the UK, their role is declining.

Supermarkets are the dominant sales channel for wine in the UK, and this dominance is expected to strengthen further in the coming years. Supermarkets are a suitable channel for high-volume exporters, either bottled or in bulk. They import per container, so you need to be able to fill at least an entire container. The focus of supermarkets differs considerably in the UK. Some focus on quality wines and a reputable assortment while other focus on low-priced bulk wines. Their margin on the selling price is about 30%.

High listing fees can be problematic, making it difficult for a developing country exporter to successfully target this channel. Working with supermarkets therefore requires good price calculations and involves high risks, as the sales quantities are not guaranteed.

Specialist retailers: Specialist shops are small, look for higher quality wines, and usually buy their wines from an importer, specialised in the off-trade. This channel, therefore, can only be reached indirectly by developing country exporters. Their margin on the selling price is 30% or higher.

Different developments can be distinguished in the UK. The larger specialist chains are witnessing strong decline in their wine sales. Several chains have gone bankrupt, while others were forced to concentrate on the most profitable areas only (big cities, especially London). Independents, on the other hand, are an increasingly vibrant channel, and are expected to grow further in the coming years. There are approximately 750 independent specialised wine retailers in the UK.

On-trade: The on-trade sector consists of many small players, and therefore usually does not import directly. If you target the on-trade sector, you can supply an importer or wholesaler, which redirects your wine to the restaurants and other players in the UK market.

An importer with a high quality image can provide support in selling your wine to the on-trade, by making use of his image. Restaurants mostly look for wines with a reputable image and of a good quality. Sales by the on-trade sector are expected to remain stable in the coming years.

Online sales: Online sales are well developed in the UK, already accounting for 11% of total wine sales in the country, and they are expected to increase further in the coming years. In addition to the leading supermarkets and specialist shops,which often sell wine online, there are a number of online-only wine stores and wine clubs which are growing in popularity. Some supply to restaurants and stores in addition to customers, while most are oriented towards delivering wine directly to the consumer.

Annex 2: Explanation of market segments in Figure 2


High-volume trade plays an important role in the UK. It usually concerns lower quality wines suitable for the low-end market addressed by supermarkets. Competition on price is very high in this segment. High-volume wines are imported per container.


Low-volume trade concerns bottled wine only, and usually involves speciality wines, of a high quality or with another unique selling point. Targeting the low-volume segment, therefore, requires at least some level of authenticity. Note that branding is important in the premium segment in the UK.


Bulk wine imports are increasing. You need to be able to export a large volume when supplying bulk wine; a thousand hectolitres is usually the minimum required quantity (20-25 thousand litres per shipment).

The private label market could be an opportunity for developing country producers, although it is also a risk, as buyers can more easily switch to other producers to make up their blends. As such, it is mostly interesting for developing country producers without a brand.


Exporting bottled wine is most suitable for smaller exporters and for producers of branded wines. Transportation is more expensive in this case, but value addition for developing countries is higher as well since bottling takes place in the producing country.


Supermarkets are the leading sales channel in the UK and a suitable channel for high-volume exporters. Supermarkets import per container and highly focus on price. However, listing fees are problematic, making it difficult for a developing country exporter to successfully target this channel.

Specialist retailers:

Specialist shops are small, look for higher quality wines, and usually buy their wines from an importer, specialised in the off-trade. This channel, therefore, can only be reached indirectly by developing country exporters.


The on-trade sector consists of many small players, and therefore usually does not import directly. If you target the ontrade sector, you can supply an importer or wholesaler, which redirects your wine to the restaurants and other players in the UK market. Restaurants mostly look for wines with a reputable image and of a good quality.

Online sales:

Compared to other Western wine markets, online sales play a large role in the UK. All sales channels engage in online selling as well as marketing. E-commerce is expected to become even more important in the future.

Source : CBI Market Intelligence

The Bulk Wine and Spirits Show Expands In London

International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show,London 2018.

Exhibitor Interest Form

Please fill out your contact information here and get a special launch code that will give you a flat 25% discount on the launch day (April 1, 2017) on London Exhibitor Registrations for the International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show. It will also give you complimentary session tickets to all sessions during the event. The fair is aimed to be your default Bulk Wine, Bulk Spirits and Private Label show for the European market with London as a hub city.

IBWSS exhibitors are wineries and distilleries looking to sell bulk wine and spirits, producers and negociants who offer contract manufacturing or private label programs, and wineries, distilleries and importers who have one-time excess stock to clear.

IBWSS buyers are wineries and distilleries looking to meet their demand, importers, retailers and distributors looking for private label programs, and negociants who are looking to meet new growers and producers.

International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show (IBWSS) Visitor registrations are now open. Get Your Visitors Trade Pass Now. 


What Drives Imports and Exports of Bulk Wine?

Georgi’s Conclusion

Exchange rates are part of the explanation. There are other things that influence the wine trade: yields, demand changes, policy (duty drawbacks)

Theory and Reality: Bulk wine 2011-2014

A strong dollar

  •  Increases volume of imports and
  •  Lowers the U.S. dollar price of imports
  •  Reduces volume of U.S. Exports and
  •  Raises prices of U.S Exports for foreign buyers in their currencies

Between 2011 and 2014 the dollar gained about 15.5% against currencies of most wine producing countries (weighted by value of imports).

The dollar gained about 7.5% against the currencies of major wine importing countries (Euro, Pound, Yen, Yuan, HK Dollar) • What happened to U.S. Imports and Exports of bulk wine?

U.S. Total Bulk Imports by Month

Chile, Argentina, and Australia are the major bulk suppliers to the U.S. (87%)

Chile, Argentina, and Australia Bulk Imports as Trendlines

Changes in Bulk Wine Quantities and Price (dollars/liter) from 2011-2014

Thoughts on Bulk Imports and Theory?

  • Bulk imports did increase in 2012 for all countries but then declined in volume the following two years
  • However Chilean and Australian prices fell in U.S. dollars by 18% and 19% and these two countries accounted for more than 50% of bulk shipments.
  • Argentine bulk prices in U.S. dollars per liter remained roughly constant, but volumes declined by 60% from the 2012 high. Not competitive with Chile and Australia?

Despite a strong dollar, volumes of U.S. bulk shipments have remained fairly constant

What Was Happening in the U.S.?

  • Domestic quantity demanded has been increasing (2-4% per year) • Quantity demanded for wine under $7 a bottle has decreased by 7% from 2011 to 2014
  • Short vintages in 2010 and 2011. CA supply did not keep up with U.S. demand.
  • This led to increased bulk imports in 2012, accounting for the spike • 2012 and 2013 were two record harvests in California
  • Southern S.J Valley harvest produced a record 2.48 million tons in 2013, filling tanks and reducing the need for bulk wine imports
  • All this effected California prices and import volumes

Quantity Demanded and California Shipments

Recent California Grape Crush

Drawback, if a factor, encouraged exports (and would tend to raise grape prices)


  • Exchange rates are one of several factors that effect grape prices.
  • A strong dollar makes imports more competitive with domestic wine, thus lowering grape prices in California (at least for those segments where imports are a substitute)
  • But decreasing U. S. demand for inexpensive wine coupled with large CA harvests also reduces CA prices (supply/demand)
  • We live in a global marketplace. The two strategies for success are: (1) Differentiation (i.e. reduce the potential for substitution)(2) Increased efficiency (out compete foreign producers)

Source :

Only 10 Spots are left to become an Exhibitor at the 2017 International Bulk Wine and Spirits ShowRegister Now and Join the show as an Exhibitor.

Beverage Trade Network Announces the International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show, London in 2018

Beverage Trade Network is pleased to announce the launch of the International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show in London on 24 & 25 January, 2018.

IBWSS London will give supermarkets, retailers, restaurants, wineries, distilleries and other buyers a premiere international platform to source bulk wine and spirits and meet private label suppliers.
In addition to a wide range of programs running throughout the fair, the trade show will also feature a business conference dedicated to the private label and bulk wine and spirit business. With in-depth market studies and instructional seminars from some of the industry`s biggest names, the central part of the conference`s remit is to encourage sustainable growth and profitability in the bulk wine and spirit sector.

IBWSS London exhibitors are wineries and distilleries looking to sell bulk wine and spirits, producers, brokers and negociants who offer contract manufacturing or private label programs, and wineries, distilleries and importers who have one-time excess stock to clear.

IBWSS buyers are wineries and distilleries looking to meet their demand, importers, retailers and distributors looking for private label programs, and brokers and negociants who are looking to meet new growers and producers.

`The bulk segment holds the largest market share in the wine and spirits industry,’ said Sid Patel, CEO of Beverage Trade Network.  `Bulk trading is an age-old trade between producers, but we are now seeing the business take on a very impressive position across the industry. The International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show in London aims to give the bulk trade a truly dynamic trading platform where buyers can confidently conduct business with the world’s most reputable suppliers.’

As one of the leading private label and bulk wine and spirits markets in the western world, London is positioned perfectly for the fair. The UK has long developed the bulk trade and is home to many bulk traders servicing the globe.  

With the launch of IBWSS London, international bulk suppliers from some of the world`s most important markets will have unprecedented access to the European market.

Registrations for The International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show open to all international suppliers on February 8, 2017. Exhibitors can reserve their tables here: For more information about visiting or exhibiting at the fair, please contact

About Beverage Trade Network: Beverage Trade Network (BTN) is a leading online marketing and B2B networking platform servicing suppliers, buyers and beverage professionals in the global beverage industry. BTN provides a selection of sourcing solutions for importers and distributors as well as an extensive range of marketing and distribution services for international suppliers. BTN also runs a line-up of B2B trade shows around the world. For more information about BTN, please visit

2018 International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show – Exhibitor Registration (London) Now Open Register Today!

International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show in London

Special Exhibitor Pricing Ends March 31, 2017.

Get 2 Day IBWSS Conference Sessions Pass Included With Your Exhibitor Registration. (Must Book by March 31, 2017).

IBWSS exhibitors are wineries and distilleries looking to sell bulk wine and spirits, producers and negociants who offer contract manufacturing or private label programs, and wineries, distilleries and importers who have one-time excess stock to clear.


Wineries, distilleries, importers, distributors, retailers, national and regional chains, negociants, brokerage firms who are looking for bulk wine, bulk spirits, private label manufacturing and grapes.


July 26-27, 2017 – South San Francisco Conference Center

TTB and Sample assistant will be provided to overseas exhibitors. Please email us for more information / questions about sending samples.


The event will offer 80 spots, so space is limited. Exhibitors are encouraged to reserve space early as booths are expected to sell out quickly.


The show is a trestle table set up, you will not pay anything extra for chairs and tables and wifi. Your pricing overs ALL costs associated with the show. You are required to bring in one roll-up banner only and can put marketing material on your table.

IBWSS will provide you with the below.
– Tasting Table
– White Tablecloth & Skirting
– 2 Chairs + Ice Bucket + Spittoon
– Glasses will be provided to buyers at the show

International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show (IBWSS) Visitor registrations are now open. Get Your Visitors Trade Pass Now. 


Questions Asked by US Bulk Wine Producers

Q1 – Another winery is doing a custom crush for me, and will be producing and bottling my wine.  How do I get a label approval?

Federal regulations require that the bottling winery must submit the label for approval.  Even though the wine is produced and bottled for you and/or will be distributed exclusively (or not) by you, the bottler/importer is responsible for getting the label approval.

Q2- I operate a domestic winery and I am making wine from grapes or juice that I have purchased from another state or country.  What appellation of origin may I use?

This is a complicated question, and the answer (see 27 CFR §4.25(b)) depends on the particular circumstances. State or local laws and regulations may be more restrictive than Federal laws and regulations in some instances, and, to use an appellation, the wine must conform to the laws and regulations of the named appellation area.  (Please note that we use here certain states or regions only as examples to illustrate certain different circumstances.)  We advise that you confer with state and local authorities regarding their requirements before finalizing your COLA submission.  Remember that your wine, and the records that you keep, must adequately support any claims which are made on your label. The following situations serve as examples.  There are certainly more factual circumstances that might have a different outcome.

Situation 1:   I am making a wine with grapes or juice originating from a state that is contiguous to (that is,  touching)  my own state (e.g. when California grapes are used to produce  wine in Oregon).Suppose that I have purchased Napa Valley, California, grapes that I will produce into wine in Oregon.

The most specific appellation of origin eligible for use is the name of the contiguous state (California).  A viticultural area appellation of origin (e.g. Napa Valley) may NOT  be used because the wine was not fully finished within that state.

Situation 2:  The state from which the winemaking material originates is not contiguous to the state in which the wine is produced. For example, California grapes have been purchased to produce wine in New York.

The most specific appellation of origin eligible – for use is a country appellation, such as “American.”  Note that when a country is used as an appellation of origin a vintage date is NOT permissible for the wine.

Situation 3:   I am purchasing grapes or juice from another country.  An appellation of origin may NOT be used, as this wine is not eligible for such claims (see 27 CFR §4.25(b)(2)(ii)).  A vintage date or a varietal designation (e.g. Merlot) may not appear  on the wine,  as both items require an appellation of origin present on the label.  The wine may be labeled only with  a more general class or type statement, such as “Red Wine” or “White Wine.”

Q3 – May a proprietor of a bonded wine premises transfer bulk wine to a bonded wine premises, brewery, or distilled spirits plant?


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How to Have Your Own Wine Label Without Having a Winery

On the surface, it almost sounds like an oxymoron – having your own wine label without having a winery. But private label wines are becoming an increasingly popular segment of the U.S. wine market, and for good reason: launching your own private label wine can boost revenue, increase profit margins, and help you create a unique brand identity that sets you apart from the competition.

Perhaps the best example of a private label wine business taking off is the Kirkland Signature line of wines at Costco, which is already the #1 wine retailer in the U.S. Through its exclusive partnerships with wineries in the United States, Costco is able to offer unique, premium wines at half the cost anywhere else. Similarly, Trader Joe’s has sold over 50 million cases of its private label wine since 2002.

And a growing number of retailers – including some national wine and liquor chains and supermarkets – are following suit, viewing the private label wine business as a way to boost revenue and grow margins. According to some estimates, the margins on private label wine bottles are 10-15 percent higher than on bottles from national brands like Kendall Jackson and Barefoot.

Plus, as wine experts point out, retailers are essentially shortening their supply chain by squeezing out some of the middleman who are making their mark-ups every time they sell a case of wine. You are getting your wine direct from the winery, after all.

As a result, it’s no longer out of the ordinary to see private label wines show up on the shelves of supermarkets. Even a few national wine and spirits stores, such as Total Wine, now offer private label wines. According to the current estimates, private label wines now account for approximately 5 percent of all wines sold in the United States, and that figure could be headed higher. Some projections call for private label wines to eventually account for 20 percent of the entire market.

That would make private label wines roughly the equivalent of other private label goods (i.e. private label pasta, private label canned goods) that supermarkets now sell. And in France and Italy, the private label wine market is even more popular, accounting for nearly one-third of all wines sold.

In addition to the economic appeal of these private label wines, there’s also the branding aspect that can help to differentiate companies from other restaurants or retailers. For example, the legendary Italian restaurant Carmine’s in New York City has used private label wines as part of its overall branding strategy. It has worked with wineries to create a range of different wines – Pinot Grigio, Chianti, Prosecco, Montepulciano and Trebbiano – that it can offer to customers as examples of small, family-made wines, which can be enjoyed as part of a family-style feast. For families and tourists on a budget, it’s a way to create a welcoming wine menu that is also true to the restaurant’s overall brand.

The important point to keep in mind is that a private label wine doesn’t say “private label” on the bottle. To the casual wine drinker, it looks just like any other wine they might drink. While Costco and Trader Joe’s customers may realize they are drinking private label wines, that’s not necessarily true in the restaurant and hospitality business.

In general, private label wines are starting to catch on as customers become more adventurous and daring in their choices. They may not recognize the wine or the label, but are tempted to try it and experiment. And, as we’ve seen already, having an eye-catching label is often just as effective as having a first-class wine in terms of attracting attention. The “snob appeal” of avoiding private label wines, if there ever was any, appears to be fading. After all, the bottle, the cork, and the label are no different. It’s just a matter of convincing a customer to try a $10-15 bottle of wine they may not recognize instead of a bottle of wine that’s 2-3 times more expensive.

If anything, the major trend is towards private, exclusive wines that are grown in limited quantities. So that’s how businesses can choose to position their private label wines. Instead of being used to attract cost-conscious customers, it’s a way to attract affluent, sophisticated customers. That may not be true for Costco, which is focused on selling huge quantities at low prices, but it certain works for the hospitality business, where there is a constant search to differentiate oneself from the competition. As a result, everyone from a national chain of steakhouses to a small boutique hotel chain might be interested in creating a private label wine.

Bottles of white wine in a bottling plant

Which leads to the obvious question: How do you get started if you want to own your own private label?

The first step, say industry insiders, is to figure out the types of wines that your customers enjoy drinking and what the average price of the bottles they are ordering is. From there, you need to make a few projections about the growth projections of your business. You don’t want to be ordering thousands of cases of wine, and then be stuck with dead inventory. Also, since every label must denote the place of origin of the wine, the wines you select should be a natural fit for the restaurant in terms of region and style of wine.

From there, it’s time to reach out to wineries that might potentially be interested in a deal. Some wineries are able to accommodate a wide range of order sizes – everything from 5 cases to 1000 cases – while other wineries prefer only to work on smaller or larger order sizes. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, the vintner will work with you on every aspect of creating your own wine – down to the creation of the label and even the type of cork. There are also independent design companies specializing in designing wine labels, cases and other promotional material. They will design a label that meets the specifications of the country you want to sell in and the tier you want to sell the wine in.

From there, all you have to do is place the order and you’ll soon have your private wine label, all without the time and expense of actually operating your own winery.

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10 Tips for Building Better Wine Businesses

1.Start by understanding your customer value proposition. Only part of this stems from your company’s unique heritage and / or personality. To be successful, this needs to be strongly linked to what your customers ultimately want from the experience of your brands. There is some excellent research on this that is publicly available. Getting it right is therefore not out of the reach of small companies.

2.Once you understand what customers value most, you can then remove what they don’t want (thereby reducing costs and freeing up cash), focus your communication on what they do want (often at no additional cost), differentiate your company on the basis of fulfilling customer needs more accurately than any competitor (again often at no extra cost) and raise prices (because your offering is more highly valued).

3.Always be asking the question–“If I could start with a blank canvas today what would our wine business look like?” It’s all too easy to let existing assets, existing product lines and existing ways of doing things blind us to what it is that our consumers value most. Often it’s simplicity. Complexity usually adds to costs and often only serves to confuse customers. Retaining unnecessary or irrelevant product lines, assets or business processes is the worst contributor.

4.Make everyone in the company accountable for securing customer preference. This is not just the job of marketing but of everyone in the company, the owner most particularly. Make this the focus of the way every employee innovates their job processes on a daily basis.

5.Invest in relationships. This is particularly so with major distribution partners. Make sure sufficient time and money is invested before demanding results. Be prepared to invest up front in bringing them to your home base and entertaining them in order to build enduring friendships.

6.Make all employees champions for profit. Develop a culture of honesty around net revenue. Make sure everyone knows the actual price achieved net of all discounts, rebates, bonus stock and anything else that might otherwise cloud the true profit picture. Keep them focused on reducing costs but let them know that a percentage increase in wine company revenue is, on average, twice as effective as the same percentage decrease in the cost of goods sold and 3-4 times as effective as the same percentage saving in operating expenses.

7.Optimise your pricing mix. Focus first on selling more, higher margin product in high value markets to high value customers. Beware of people in love with “big volume”. Big numbers make for big stories but often mean a lot of running around for no additional profit.

8.Build better business intelligence gathering systems–most companies are good at monitoring their own press. Very few have effective systems in place to monitor competitors, track changes in consumer preferences and turn customer feedback into customer value added.

9.Build 5-10 year Strategic Plans, forecast rolling 12 month budgets, link them to the most relevant KPIs and tie remuneration to these wherever possible. Everybody knows they should do this. Few do. The difference in the performance of companies that do is enormous.

10.Watch your cashflow – building a cashflow forecast is a relatively easy exercise with the right software and some quality assistance. Some people survive years of losses but you can only run out of cash once. In a cash hungry business like wine–Cashflow is not just King but Oxygen

This article is contributed by Peter McCartney, Wine Business Solutions

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What are the Federal requirements for “Custom Crush” clients and winemakers?

What is a “Custom Crush” arrangement and what are the Federal requirements for “Custom Crush” clients and winemakers?

In a typical custom crush arrangement, a grape grower or any person with winemaking materials (the “client”) enters into a contract with a bonded winery proprietor to have the grapes processed into wine. The client retains title to the grapes, and the wine is made to the client’s specifications. The finished wine is returned to the client for sale to other dealers, or the winery sometimes sells the wine on behalf of the client.

The custom crush client may be required to obtain a Federal Wholesaler’s Basic Permit from TTB. This permit allows the client to engage in the business of purchasing wine for resale at wholesale, in accordance with the Federal Alcohol Administration Act at 27 U.S.C. 203(c)(1) and 27 CFR 1.22. Although the client is specifically paying for the producer’s services, the client has purchased wine (within the broad meaning of the term) at the price set in the agreement. If the client engages in activities normally associated with wholesaling, such as setting the price for the wine, determining which dealers will be sold the wine, and controlling and paying for advertising of the product, the client must have a wholesaler’s basic permit. If, however, the client merely receives the proceeds from the sale by the winery of the resulting wine, a permit would not be required.

The custom crush client who engages in the business of selling wine is liable for Registration as a Liquor Dealer.  The holder of a federal permit is automatically registered to sell at the address shown on the permit.  If selling at retail at a location where you do not hold a valid producer, blender, wholesaler or importer permit, the retailer must register that location by filing TTB F 5630.5(d) There is no cost for registration.

Bonded winery proprietors must ensure that the receipt of winemaking materials and the ensuing activities associated with the production of custom crush wine is properly recorded. TTB reminds the industry that wine produced for custom crush clients carries the same regulatory requirements for recordkeeping, reporting, labeling and taxation as wine made for the winery itself.

Manufacturing partner

The bottling winery is responsible for obtaining an appropriate Certificate of Label Approval, and the wine premises which removes the wine from bond is responsible for payment of Federal excise tax at the rate appropriate for the producing winery. For the purposes of determining eligibility for the Small Domestic Producer’s Credit, all wine produced for clients must be included in the production and removal calculations (see 27 CFR 24.278-9).


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What are the rules for transfer of unlabelled bottled wine?

When unlabeled bottled wine is transferred among two or more bonded wine premises for aging or labeling, the bottler must provide a copy of the approved Application For And Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval (COLA) TTB Form 5100.31 under which the wine was bottled. The transfer in bond record which accompanies the wine must be accurate and specific, and the label information record for the wine must fully support any claims made on the label to be affixed to the wine.

The responsibility for transferring accurate label information is not that of the producer alone; it is the responsibility of all holders of the wine from the time it is produced until it is removed from bond for consumption or sale.

Here are guidelines for the various parties that may be involved when unlabeled bottled wine is transferred among bonded premises:

What are the responsibilities of the Producer?

The producer of the wine must ensure that the transfer in bond record required by 27 CFR 24.309 contains accurate and specific label information for all bulk wine shipped in bond (or tax paid) to another premises for bottling. This allows the bottler to apply for a COLA and ensures that the product label is correct.

What are the responsibilities of the Bottler?

The bottler obtains a COLA which can be substantiated by the transfer record which accompanied the wine from the producer. Unless the wine will be bottled at a tax paid wine bottling house, the bottler will make sure that the wine to be bottled is received and maintained on bonded (not tax paid) premises. The bottler maintains records in accordance with 27 CFR 24.308.

If the bottler transfers unlabeled bottled wine to another bonded premises for labeling, the bottler must send the wine in bond (untaxpaid) with the COLA under which the wine was bottled. If a different product label will be affixed, the bottler must obtain a correct COLA, and forward it to the premises where the label will be affixed. The transfer in bond record that accompanies the bottled wine must contain accurate and specific information which substantiates the product label, as specified by 27 CFR 24.309. However, if unlabeled bottled wine is transferred to another bonded premises for aging only, and will be subsequently returned to the bottler for the affixing of the product label, the COLA does not have to accompany the shipments.

To reiterate, an approved label which accompanies the wine must carry the minimum label requirements, but it might not be the label eventually affixed to the product. The label used to bottle the wine is sometimes referred to as the “generic” label. The bottler may apply for another COLA for a product label with specific label claims, as long as the claims are substantiated by the label information record requirements of 27 CFR 24.314.

What does the Labeller receive from the Bottler?

The person who will affix the product label receives the unlabeled, untaxpaid bottled wine, the COLA for the product label to be affixed, and the transfer in bond record (27 CFR 24.309) which contains accurate and specific information which substantiates the label claims.

Only the bottler of the wine may apply for a COLA. If the owner of unlabeled bottled wine wants to label the wine with a label other than that which accompanied the wine, the bottler must be contacted, and the bottler must work with the owner to obtain an approved product label which is fully substantiated by the label information record for that wine.

What if the bottler is unable to provide a COLA?

If the bottler of the wine is unable to obtain label approval for the wine to be labelled, the wine may only be labeled if it is dumped to bulk and re-bottled. It may be re-bottled when an appropriate COLA is obtained by the bottler. The label may not contain any information which is not fully supported by the label information record for the wine.

Red wine in glass bottling machine at winery

What is the responsibility of the person who removes the wine from bond?

If the labelled wine is transferred in bond to another bonded wine premises for taxable removal, it must be accompanied by the transfer in bond record (27 CFR 24.309) which contains accurate and specific information which substantiates the label claims.

The person who pays the tax on the wine is the qualified proprietor of a bonded winery or bonded wine cellar, and not a wholesaler, wine broker, agent, negotiate, retailer, consumer or, necessarily, the actual owner of the wine. Bottled wine may not be removed from bond (i.e., tax paid) without a COLA and an approved product label being affixed. This requirement is given in the wine regulations at 27 CFR 24.257(a) which states in part: “The proprietor must label each bottle or other container of beverage wine prior to removal for consumption or sale.”

How long the records must be kept?

All records must be retained for a period of not less than three years from the record date or the date of last entry required to be made in the record, whichever is later.

However, TTB may require records to be kept for a period of not more than three additional years, if deemed necessary.


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