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Q&A: Wine & Food Questions

How to sell out-of-state wine in Florida?

Hi! I''m interested in distributing wine for a family friend who runs a winery in Colorado. I live in Florida and have the ability to sell her wine here but do not have a distributorship or license of any kind. We'd rather try to keep the operation small and sell in art galleries, small wine boutiques and specialty grocery stores. Is it possible for us to acquire the rights to distribution and carry through with this idea ourselves, or would it be necessary to involve an already established distributor in the state of Florida? Thanks so much for your help and advice! Alisa

Answer From Expert Roger C. Bohmrich, MW

First, for the answer to any question involving the sale of alcoholic beverages, you should consult an attorney versed in Florida laws and regulations before taking any action. Insofar as the business component of your question is concerned, you may find it more practical to find an existing Florida distributor for your friend's wine. The time and investment required to set up a company and obtain a wholesale license is unlikely to be compensated by this project alone, when you consider start-up and operating costs (office, inventory, warehouse, delivery, etc.). Whatever your decision, you won't find it easy to find outlets for Colorado wine in Florida or many other states unless your friend's wine is simply remarkable and a great value. It can be done, however, and I am thinking about the success of the Gruet sparkling wines from New Mexico (gruetwinery.com), about as implausible as can be - until you taste the excellent products and find out the value pricing!

About The Expert

Roger has enjoyed a lengthy career in the wine trade as an importer and retailer, and at present he is an educator, speaker and consultant. He set up and managed Millesima USA, a New York merchant affiliated with Europe's leader in direct sales of fine wines to consumers. Previously, he served as senior executive of Frederick Wildman & Sons, traveling regularly around the world to visit wineries and taste the new vintage from barrel. Roger became one of America's first Masters of Wine in 1993.

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