New Distributor Plans Assistance to Small Wineries

Chuck Harder says he isn’t sure yet where he wants to take Reno Wine Distributors. But the mission of the new business is helping small vintners get distribution in northern Nevada’s local restaurants and retailers.

“People like to try local wines,” Harder said. “A lot of times you go into a place and there are 70 wines on a wine list.” But asking for local wine is pointless, he said, because they don’t have it.

Chuck Harder in his office at Reno Wine Distributors on May 3, 2018. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

Small producers and some exotic labels are generally unable to get attention from the major distributors of wine and spirits. Without a distributor to represent them, the wines can’t be sold into any retail or restaurant venue. This means the majority of the state’s wine producers are locked out of potentially appropriate venues like locally owned restaurants.

Nevada is a three-tier state, in which manufacturers, distributors, and retailers have legally distinct roles. The law prohibits a manufacturer of alcoholic beverages to serve as his own distributor.

Reno Wine Distributors has no sales force. Harder told GBN there may not be one. Instead, it will act as a facilitator, with winery personnel knocking on doors and closing the deals themselves. The product then will move through the sprawling warehouse on Parr Boulevard where Reno Wine Distributors has secured space to operate. The distributorship will handle paperwork and taxes.

Besides a handful of northern Nevada prospects, Harder anticipates importing from small wineries in the Sierra Foothills and elsewhere. He’s also heard rumors that out-of-state entities may be exploring the opportunity to start wineries here.

Reno Wine Distributors will also work with small brewers and distillers.

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