Oklahoma wineries to sell straight to retailers

Friday, November 14th 2008, 7:20 pm

By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- This is the first week some Oklahoma wineries can sell their product to retailers and restaurants without a middle man.

The self-distribution measure was overwhelmingly approved by voters on November 4. The law could spur a new state industry.

One liquor store has a special section just for Oklahoma wines, and the owner of the store expects it to grow, now that local wineries can sell directly to retailers.

All week Andrew Snyder has been loading and unloading his wine; a first for the small business owner.

"We had to take that wine to a wholesaler, the wholesaler had the ability to say, ‘No, we don't want to carry your product'," Snyder said.

But the passage of State Question 743 cuts out the middle man. Wineries that produce up to 10,000 gallons of wine a year can now sell their product straight to the consumer.

Snyder's wine now sits next to a growing collection of Oklahoma-made vino.

"We do sell quite a bit of Oklahoma wines," liquor store owner Sam Eid said.

And he expects to sell even more, at a lower cost.

"Now we don't have to add that extra percentage that wholesalers attach to the price bottle we can sell at a lower price," Eid said.

To get to this point, local wine makers had to negotiate with wholesalers.

Those who advocate for Oklahoma businesses, say it's a small compromise now that could lead to a bigger future.

"It's exciting to those businesses that see a potential and hopefully when they get large enough they will need distributors to help them distribute the product," Bob Marshall with the State Chamber of Commerce said.

Until that day comes, Snyder is happy to do the leg work.

"The fact that we can now get it out on the shelf space around the state of Oklahoma is a great boom to the Oklahoma grape and wine industry," Snyder said.

Not all winery owners see the passage of the state question as a victory.

To distribute now, they have to purchase a license for $750. Some say that's too much for a small business owner.


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