W.S.W.A, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of American is the association of America’s largest liquor distributors. It is also the lobby that does everything possible to prevent the smallest winery anywhere in America from shipping a few bottles of wine to consumers in another state. Driven by the same wisdom that the N.R.A. uses to justify the sale of AK-47’s as sporting rifles (I guess they’re right if the prey are humans) the W.S.W.A protects America’s youth from partying down on $50 bottles of wine that they think taste like shit and have to wait weeks to get. Thank god they are there to protect America’s teenagers from alcohol in the same way that the N.R.A. has protected America’s youth at Northern Illinois University (my father’s alma mater) and Virginia Tech among so many others.
In my past I was part of an idealistic company (long on ideals and short on cash) that had to sell out for financial reasons and was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force that promised they just wanted to get into the fine wine business. After I cut the deal with the devil, part of my new duties included yearly attendance at the annual convention of the W.S.W.A and never have I felt more soiled and embarrassed in my life as a wine professional. The only purpose of the W.S.W.A. is to preserve the monopoly of large liquor distributors that also happen to sell wine as a sideline because it lets them touch an elegance and sophistication that they aspire to, but can never understand or achieve.
To see proof of this we only have to visit their own brochure for their upcoming convention in Las Vegas (the perfect location for them), where W.S.W.A. president and C.E.O. Craig Wolf tells prospective attendees while he understands they are there for business (wink wink, nudge, nudge), they certainly wouldn’t want to miss the ribbon cutting ceremony, which will be done by a Penthouse Playmate. Such elegance defines the W.S.W.A. I confess the four years I was compelled to attend the W.S.W.A. convention were low points of my professional career. After three days with this crowd you understand that they not only don’t care about wine, but can’t understand it. For them, it’s just another beverage to sell with the same passion they put into selling Red Bull or whatever. As far as drinking wine, for them it’s only the alcohol that goes between the multiple Martinis before dinner and more booze after dinner. One thing for sure is that every W.S.W.A. convention I attended was an event stewed in sleaze that always made me feel dirty by even being associated with it. Can you imagine how professional women that attend these W.S.W.A. conventions must feel?
The photos around this post are all from the the promotional brochure for the 2008 W.S.W.A. convention. They are proud to present themselves in this light.These are the people that want to control what wine you drink. The people that organize this debauchery in Vegas are the very same people that say they want to protect your children from the evils of winery direct sales. Look at the morals they promote to their own members. Do you believe they care about your children. Of course they don’t. It’s all about money: their money.
This topic had come up just a few weeks ago in another post and I will reiterate my compliments to Tom Wark at Fermentation and the Specialty Wine Retailers for leading the fight against what can only be viewed as an anti-fine wine organization. As the proud father of a beautiful 26 year old woman closing in on her Masters Degree in Social Work, I also despair at the crass misogyny of this organization. Make no mistake, such people have no interest in protecting you from anything. If they can think of a way to make enough money selling vodka to your fourteen-year-old daughter they’ll do it, but until they can figure out how to do that they’ll act like they want to protect her.
If you have any last doubts about their integrity, the keynote speaker for W.S.W.A 2008 in Vegas is Tony Snow, who spent most of the last few years defending Bush and Cheney. I don’t think you’ll see many Obama or Clinton buttons at W.S.W.A. 2008 in Vegas. What you see here are their photos and words, this is what they are proud of and how they want to present themselves to their own members. Remember this the next time they tell you how much they want to protect your family. Take my word for it, I’ve been there. These old guys in their silk suits and gold chains leering at these twenty-something (hopefully) girls are not worthy of your trust. They’re just a bunch of dirty old men and their sons who want your money and will do anything to take it.