What is a Wine Distributor?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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There are several different careers associated with the buying and selling of wine. A vintner is someone who manufactures, bottles, or sells table or dessert wine. In order for the wine to reach a retailer — someone with a license to sell wine for consumption off the premises — or an establishment licensed to sell liquor for consumption on the premises, the wine may have to be imported, and will need to be distributed from the various vintners to the various points of sale. A wine distributor is the one who does this.

A wine distributor is a kind of wholesaler, part of the commercial world that does not produce a product nor come into contact with the end customers. The wine distributor often works in a particular region and builds long-term relationships with a standing set of clients, which include the vintners on the one hand and the retailers on the other hand.


Wine distributor is a licensed profession in the United States. The fee and requirements vary by state. There are also special tax forms that wine distributors may be responsible for, as well as other paperwork particular to the profession. If importing from out of the country, this will involve customs. Wine distributors may distribute their products in person or over the Internet. This is handled differently in different countries. In British Columbia, for example, a wine distributor would be called an “independent liquor agent” and be licensed by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch of the Ministry of Housing and Social Development.

The wine distributor keeps track of the particular needs and tastes of the retailers who buy from him or her. He or she also tracks the developments among the vintners, from new product lines to the effects of weather and other natural events on upcoming wines. It’s also important to follow popular culture, where treatment of a particular wine may markedly increase or decrease popularity, is also important. This means keeping in touch with producers and customers and keeping a close eye on the news.

Tracking market trends can be done overall by looking at the big picture with the United States Department of Agriculture site on wine and beer. More specific information can be obtained from trade journals and on the websites of vintners. A wine distributor can also join a business or e-business network for wine and spirits buyers.


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