So many wines, so little time. What is going on with all these wines on the shelf? Where are they from and how did they get here? If you are feeling confused—even disillusioned—while strolling the wine aisles of your local liquor store, you are not alone. A December 2012 University of Michigan study revealed that a small number of distributors control the majority of wine brands you see on the shelves, creating an “illusion of diverse ownership.” It’s a fact people in the industry know well, but one that evades many consumers.

In the beverage industry, winemakers and spirits and brew masters do not sell directly to restaurants or liquor stores. They need distributors. Much like the food industry, a three-tiered system is in place to achieve this. Producer, distributor and restaurant or retail shop owners all work in harmony to provide the makings of stellar libations from around the world. Janine Buchal shares insight into the work day, goals and benefits of a wine rep.