Bulk & Private Label Wine Isn’t for You? Think Again...

August 05, 2021

Bulk & Private Label Wine Isn’t for You? Think Again...

Starting in the wine industry in Chicago circa 2012, nobody ever spoke about bulk wine. I didn't have to take a specialty course or study for a test. The distributor I worked for never told me to be ready to field questions. Not once, did one single account ever ask for a private/exclusive label. Times change...quickly. If you are a supermarket, multi-location wine retailer, or restaurant group then it's time to stop judging and to start looking closer at your bottom line.

 I'm talking about the ever-growing, dynamic sector of the wine industry that gets little to no love - bulk/private label wine. According to Vinepair.com - " In 2020, the United States imported 383 million liters of bulk wine, up 62 percent in the past decade, and the U.S. production of bulk wine accounts for 65 percent of exported wine by volume.

Not only is this one of the fastest-growing categories but it's also one of the most transparent. There's nothing to hide. Buyers can see the entire process, from producer to store shelf. There's no closed doors, only collaboration. Buyers can now be involved in every stage of the process from picking the wine style to package design to shipping and bottling. Private label is about admonishing the entire path to the consumer.

Every buyer is under massive pressure to deliver profitability and to make sure each/every wine has a purpose on the shelf. One of the advantages of private labels is the ability to create exactly what is necessary for the store or restaurant. For supermarkets it is not just about the end-to-end control and creating their brands but to fulfill consumer-specific needs.

That being said, it takes a team to achieve such a large undertaking. We're talking about thousands of gallons of wine and a sizable chunk out of the pocketbook. Buyers will always need to vet their bulk wine producers/importers to make sure they are trustworthy and diligent as copious amounts of time and resources could be spent only to have the deal go sour at the last minute.

According to the International Bulk Wine & Spirits Show (IBWSS) - "It (private label wine) crucially gives major supermarket buyers the ability to create a wine, or spirit, from scratch, that ticks all the boxes it wants to meet. Here's Clive Donaldson, senior wine buying manager for international procurement at Morrisons one of the UK's largest supermarket chains, on why the private label is now his preferred route to market: "I do not want any duplication in my range. Everything that is there is there (because) I have a very clear reason why. If we want to make something different then we can bespoke a wine to exactly how we want it. For me, bulk wine [and private label] is like getting a tailored suit. It's the perfect fit for me and my retail environment." That's the goal, that those in the US private label sector want to reach. It's also a strategy that major US producers, like E& J Gallo, are putting the top of their trading agenda when working with their major retail customers. Kate Helm, senior manager of private brands at E. & J. Gallo told Store brands earlier this year that it had doubled its private brand volume sales between 2014 and 2018 and is on track to double it again by the end of 2022. "We've experienced double-digit volume growth in each of the last nine years and forecast similar growth again in 2021," she said."

Direct bottlers have gained market share as the bulk wine sector is flourishing. Bottling and brand development companies have sprung up around this emerging market, giving them the potency needed to make an impact on a multi-billion dollar industry. All of this could be seen as a potentially significant blow to wine brands in the future.

There are also environmental factors to consider...bulk wine transports up to 20% more wine per shipment than standard (kanhaul.com) and it's better than bottling at the source because of the larger shipments thus lower CO2 emissions.

ABOUT One Vine Wines

One Vine Wines is a nontraditional importer and distributor of fine wines founded in 2005. Their expert team tastes thousands of wines a year. They offer clients only wines that represent outstanding quality and value.

With a direct email campaign and an online shop, One Vine Wines eliminated many of the inefficiencies of the wholesale trade. 

One Vine Wines is paving a better way to conduct business in the wholesale wine trade.