Technology to the Little Guys' Rescue? | Wine Enthusiast
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Technology to the Little Guys’ Rescue?

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 & 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.

New COO at Don Sebastiani & Sons

Don Sebastiani & Sons promoted Tom Hawkins to chief operating officer. Hawkins joined the wine and food company in 2009 as vice president of finance. His responsibilities soon grew to include including finance, operations, winemaking, marketing, human resources and information technology, according the company press release. Eventually, he became the firm’s chief financial officer.

In tandem with Hawkins’ promotion to the newly created COO role, the company announced Omar Percich as its new chief financial officer. Percich, who joined DSS earlier this month, formerly served for seven years as controller and CFO at Foley Family Wines.