Disclaimer: this rant will only be meaningful to industry insiders. However, it’s one of the best examples of why selling wine in the United States is one of the strangest, most archaic, socially awkward, humiliating and straight up funny experiences anyone can have while trying to build a wine brand.
When I went to college, computers were an afterthought and computer science was a major for the geeks (yes, I was an accounting major... much cooler). Most people took a programming class in their first couple of years and there were two main programming languages you could choose from: COBOL or FORTRAN.
Part and parcel of rescinding the 19th amendment was allowing the individual states the authority to create their own regulations around the distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. Never underestimate the ability of government entities to create a labyrinth of byzantine laws designed to modify individual behavior.
If you travel around the U.S. enough, everything starts to look the same: same stores, restaurants and hotels. Same everything. You could call it the McDonalds/Starbucks effect. Sure, it can be comforting to have a familiar store to shop at while traveling, but my travels afford me a bit of a different perspective.
Did you know there are over 8,000 wineries in the United States? If on average those wineries have two brands each, that’s 16,000 brands available in the market in one form or another. On the surface, that looks like the definition of a fragmented market. Compare it against the car industry: domestically we have three car companies. Throw in Tesla and you have four. There might be 100 models to choose from. Pretty different business models.
Wine Hooligans is my fourth and final (I promised my wife) start up business venture. Two were successes, one was a bomb and we will see what happens with Hooligans. Hopefully I will be batting .750 by the end of Hooligans and not .500. Start-ups have a strange addictive quality to them that brings people back time and time again. Intellectually, it makes no sense to keep coming back....