With Tom Wark’s forthcoming book Fermenting Change: The Politics, Corruption and Reform of the Three-Tier System, there are distinct signs of change and momentum building for the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) movement within the alcohol industry.
A thirty-year veteran of the alcohol industry, Wark takes aim at wholesalers, one of the three tiers who have been fighting a battle against modernizing the regulatory system created 90 years ago at the end of prohibition.
In a blog post, he recently wrote about Vinoshipper’s age-verification study that used 634,000 data points from more than 2000 customers to show that minors are not buying wine over the internet, and if they were, every transaction would be shut down if the e-commerce platform is using a pre-purchase age-verification system with access to public records.
“If we are going to oppose internet sales and shipments because minors CAN purchase alcohol on the Internet and receive shipments of it, then if we are being honest and consistent, we ought also to oppose brick-and-mortar sales of alcohol for the same reason,” he wrote. “The opponents of internet alcohol sales don’t oppose brick-and-mortar sales. “
As part of his book release, Wark also launched a website calling out various ways the Three Tier System has failed or harmed the industry, with credible alternatives for regulators and the industry to consider.
If you are a small producer in the wine, spirits or beer industry who depends on direct sales to survive, these are important resources to help DTC proponents reform and modernize our industry.