April 2013
The 2013 American Bever-
age Licensees (ABL) Annual
Conference is slated for June
in Alexandria, VA,
marking the first time it will
take place in the shadow
of the nation’s capital. The
event will bring together
beverage retailers, alcohol
industry executives, political leaders and
government officials to discuss the eco-
nomic and political state of the industry.
Seminars topics this year will include:
increasing the impact of grassroots lobby-
ing, using economic impact data to pro-
mote the industry; and an overview of
ABL’s Federal Government Affairs efforts.
Attendees will have a chance to hear po-
litical insiders share their perspectives on
the new Congress, and Martin Johnson,
a trainer for police departments, will talk
about how to spot fake IDs and what re-
tailers need to know to protect themselves
and their businesses. Also, a panel of ex-
perts will share insights on the exploding
world of craft beer, wine and spirits.
As in past years, ABL will take time to
honor those who have shown leadership
in our industry with the Brown-Forman
Retailer of the Year Awards and the ABL
Top Shelf Award, which this year is going
to Craig Wolf, president and CEO of the
Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America
(WSWA). And on the final day of the
conference, attendees will head to Capi-
tol Hill to discuss policy issues important
to retailers and make a grassroots push
with members of Congress and their staff,
followed by a reception. For more infor-
mation, visit ablusa.org.
The opening session of the 2013 National
Alcohol Beverage Control Association
(NABCA) Legal Symposium in
Alexandria, VA, addressed a seemingly
simple but profound question: Can the
three-tier system survive? Among the
panelists, author and historian Garrett
Peck addressed the rationale behind the
creation of this system after Prohibition.
Craig Wolf of WSWA and Craig Purser
of the National Beer Wholesalers
Association noted that the system is
profitable for every tier while also being
friendly for consumers. The system also
creates accountability that prevents the
type of issues seen in other countries,
such as tainted alcohol.
Purser noted that licensees, manu-
facturers, distributors and retailers experi-
ence economic, commercial and regulato-
ry success as part of the three-tier system.
As Wolf put it, “In America we love to
tinker with things,” but the consensus
from the panel was that while regulatory
changes and legal decisions will create
adjustments, the three-tier system will—
and should—survive.
Another panel focused on 21
ment litigation, covering the Commerce
Clause, antitrust and more. Since the Su-
preme Court’s 2005 Granholm ruling on
wine shipments between states, legal cases
and new laws have tested the scope of the
decision. The session panel of Wine Insti-
tute’s Steve Gross and attorneys Deborah
Skakel of Dickstein Shapiro and Walter
Marston of Marston & McNally reviewed
prior and current developments and what
may be on the horizon. State actions in re-
sponse to the Granholm decision have in-
cluded residency requirements, third-party
provider rules and legislation on grocery
and convenience store sales.
Another provocative panel addressed
the need to embrace social media. Paul
Kaspszak of the Minnesota Municipal Bev-
erage Association opened by saying that
marketing and legal staffs need to under-
stand aspects of
each other’s jobs
to be able to help
each other. Tonya
Dusold of the Iowa
Alcoholic Bever-
ages Division and
Christie Scott of
the Oregon Liquor
Control Commis-
sion encouraged attendees to not shy away
from pushback, or negative comments that
may be said, but to use it as an opportunity
to change the tone of the message.
Social media is changing in a way
such that it is not necessarily how fast one
responds to an issue that is important, but
how well one manages it. Looking to the
future, platforms such as Facebook and
Twitter may soon be used to shift the fo-
cus of internet traffic toward an organiza-
tion’s own website.
When The Dalmore set out to partner with
a “New York influencer at the top of the
culinary world,” one name quickly came to
mind: Chef Daniel Boulud. Luckily, Bou-
lud is a huge single malt lover—“It’s what
chefs drink to relax,” he says—and he im-
mediately said yes at the chance to partner
with Dalmore’s master blender, Richard
Patterson. The end result is the first-ever
single malt Scotch whisky created in col-
laboration with a Michelin star chef—and
one that pays tribute to the rich complexi-
ties of Chef Boulud’s cuisine.
James Sgueo, NABCA
Craig Wolf, WSWA
Chef Daniel Boulud and Dalmore’s master
blender, Richard Patterson
Craig Purser, NBWA
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