Technology to the Little Guys’ Rescue?

BY LESLIE GEVIRTZ || BEVERAGE INDUSTRY ENTHUSIAST

Three Californians hope to upend a system for shipping and distributing wine, spirits and beer that has been in place since Prohibition ended, and they plan to do this with the help of technology.

Cheryl Durzy, a 20-year wine industry veteran and licensed wholesaler with a warehouse for spirits, has teamed up with veteran software developer Richard Brashears to create LibDib, a platform that allows producers to ship their wines directly to retailers and restaurants.

“The big distributors don’t work for most small wineries… [Southern Glazer's Wine and Spirits] will not take a guy for 50 cases,” Durzy said. “My model is designed for the small-to-medium size producer. I don’t hold the inventory. They can ship directly to the bar or restaurant or retailer.

“It gives the restaurant and the retailer a chance to sell wines that everyone else isn’t carrying, and it gives the small producers a way to get distribution,” she said.

Transactions on the LibDib platform will go live in California on April 5, allowing restaurants, bars and retailers in the state to order from makers of any size and location, whether down the street or from across the globe. LibDib can handle wines and spirits and beers in California.

When it goes live in New York in early May, LibDib will be accepting only wines and spirits until it gets a separate beer distribution license, Durzy said. She and her staff are researching applications to 10 more states. Frank I. Hoppe is responsible for aspects of LibDib’s legal affairs.

The web-based platform automatically handles the invoicing, payment processing, collections and taxes and Durzy said she expects to charge producers a 15 percent premium for most transactions. She said most distributors charged 30 percent.