When faced with the possibility of a new law allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores in Tennessee a couple of years ago, the Tennessee Farm Winegrowers Alliance decided to support it. And being a member of this group, Beachaven backed the idea. We already had a wholesaler who distributed our wines to liquor stores in the region, and recently we had signed up with a distributor for Ft. Campbell and Southern Kentucky. Grocery store sales would help growth.
We all thought that it would be good for our industry – more wine sales is good for everybody, right? Consumers could more easily purchase wine, and therefore would be more adventurous in their wine drinking and would frequent more Tennessee wineries. Some of the smaller wineries are located in rural areas and do not have a lot of walk-in traffic. We all reasoned that wine being more available would increase the wine traffic all around.
WRONG! I venture to say that every winery in Tennessee has suffered a dramatic slowdown in their on-premise wine sales. Those of us with wholesalers are not feeling the pinch as tightly as those wineries who do not have an off-premise distributor. But ALL of us have noticed that our walk in traffic over the last year has decreased. And it hurts!
The cheaper brands of the wine industry that are flooding the grocery stores are leading people to believe that they can get good wine at low prices in grocery and discount stores. Well, guess what? You get what you pay for! Cheap wines are not necessarily wines that you want to drink, and the more savvy consumers know this. All wines are NOT created equal!
So, drive that extra mile. Visit a Tennessee winery (or any local winery if you live in another state) where you can TASTE BEFORE YOU BUY! That way, you will have a great experience, know that you like what you are buying, and support a neighbor who is self employed all at the same time!
-Louisa Cooke, Beachaven Vineyeards + Winery Owner