We do not operate as a traditional importer or retailer, but we still support the three-tiered system and the benefit it brings to the consumer. Traditional importers sell your wine to distributors who then sell to restaurants or retail shops. By the time the wine is purchased by a consumer, it has undergone 3 or 4 different mark-ups and traveled through a range of different storage conditions and exposures.
Many grey marketers buy your wine from any source, under any condition (even from a store window in Singapore that has been baking at 100 degrees for a year). Grey marketers are typically concerned with one thing—price. Keep in mind, price is important, but it is an overrated reason to purchase wine. Wine is a living substance: You need to know where it has been.
It is our goal to minimize the number of mark-ups your wine undergoes and to minimize any exposure to the elements from the winery to our warehouse door. Wine is always shipped to our warehouse in refrigerated trucks, tankers, and containers only, regardless of the season. It is the most expensive way to ship your wine, but we still manage to offer some of the lowest prices in the U.S. It can be done, and we have been doing it that way since day one.