A wine broker’s primary job is to act as a liaison between wine sellers and wine buyers. Some brokers will work exclusively for one party, usually a winery or a wine shop. These positions usually entail negotiations for pricing, sales terms, and import conditions, where applicable. Others are more or less free agents, working on behalf of a variety of different clients simultaneously. The main goal of any wine broker is to help facilitate successful sales and contracts between wine producers, wholesale and retail sellers, and individual consumers.
In most places, the wine industry is far more complex than simply making and selling wine. A lot of different parties are involved, including professional buyers, sales reps, and marketing agents, to name a few. Brokers are professionals who spend their time drafting and negotiating wine sales contracts. They are often responsible for recommending wines, and usually receive a commission, or percentage back, on all sales they facilitate.
Within the wine making industry, the brokers can have several different roles. They sometimes deal exclusively in grapes, helping to negotiate deals between growers and vintners. Some deals pertain to bulk wine that is sold and repackaged under a different label. Most of the time, though, brokers deal with wine that is already made and bottled but needs to be sold and publicized.
Wineries will often hire brokers to help them market and sell their wine. Brokers usually visit the winery in person, sample the wine, and draw up an agreement with the winery’s sales representative about how many bottles or cases need to be sold. Then, they will look for ways of getting that wine onto restaurant wine lists, store shelves, or other commercial venues as directed by the vintner.
Selling wine is often harder than it looks. Most commercial outlets have specific wine buyers tasked with making official wine selections, and it can be difficult to convince them to change their minds or make new additions. One of the most essential wine broker requirements is a persistent, sales-oriented personality. A lot of the job is getting past initial hesitation and push-back.
Brokers sometimes host private tastings, arrange for trial run sales shipments, and even organize promotional winery tours, if appropriate. Whatever is needed to seal up a sales agreement is usually done. This often comes at some personal expense to the broker, on faith that the initial outlay will lead to significant sales revenue later on down the line.
A broker may also work for commercial ventures, often alongside a staff wine buyer or wine agent. Buyers and agents are usually good at placing orders and keeping up on the latest trends. Wine broker jobs are slightly different in that their interest is focused primarily on negotiation and fixed sales. This sort of wine broker often recommends new wines to a merchant, or helps that merchant create a workable blend of vintages and labels that might otherwise be overlooked. Wine broker duties usually involve acquiring hard-to-find wines that can give a merchant something of an edge over the competition.
One of the most important parts of the wine broker job is crafting relationships. Brokers must usually maintain an elaborate network of contacts and trusted sources that they can use as inside channels when making deals. Most of the time, the wine broker job is a long-lasting one. Merchants and vineyards will often contract with brokers they like for many years.