A Brief History of Southern Wine & Spirits of California

Founded in 1969, Southern Wine & Spirits of California is today far and away the Golden State's single largest wine and spirits distributor. In fact, according to a recent survey in Impact Newsletter, a publication of M. Shanken Communications, Southern Wine & Spirits of California will lead all the state's wine and spirits distributors in estimated total alcoholic-beverage sales in 2006; this No.-1 ranking also makes the California operation the single largest state entity in the 32-state network that comprises Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.

Since its founding in 1968, Southern Wine and Spirits of America, Inc. (Southern), is the leading nationally recognized wine and spirits distributor in the United States known for its historic commitment to delivering the highest standards of customer service, creative marketing programs and partnerships. The Company is also known for its best-in-industry professional and well-trained sales, operational and support staff, its ongoing investments in and contributions to hospitality and beverage education for its staff, its customers and to many national educational institutions. In addition, Southern is justly respected for its deeply held belief in the importance of giving back, for being a socially responsible corporate citizen and for making generous contributions to national, state and local charitable organizations.

With approximately 2,500 employees now working statewide, Southern Wine & Spirits of California is able to deploy a comprehensive distribution network comprised of various executive, warehouse, transportation and training facilities. Taken together, these facilities are geared to providing excellence in customer service for on- and off-premise accounts as well as for brand owners and suppliers. With a state-of-the-art operation, Southern Wine & Spirits of California offers next-day delivery to the majority of the state's chain and independent retail, restaurant and hotel accounts. In fact, in a typical week, Southern Wine & Spirit of California's sales, marketing, promotional and delivery personnel service call on approximately 50,000 individual on- and off-premise accounts up and down the state.

Southern Wine & Spirits of California occupies a dominant position in the highly competitive California market. The company also distributes other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including bottled imported and domestic waters, domestic and imported beers and a variety of other beverage products. To handle this growing portfolio of brands, following the establishment of the company in 1969, Southern Wine & Spirits of California formed its American Wine & Spirits division in 1990 and then, in 1999, established its Transpacific Wine & Spirits division.
Led by Jack Brennan, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Southern Wine & Spirits of California is recognized for its unrivaled product selection, outstanding customer service and in-depth market coverage for the state's thousands of on- and off-premise chain and independent accounts.

In 1969, shortly after Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. acquired a small, struggling Southern Californian distributorship, Harvey R. Chaplin, current parent company Chairman and CEO of Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc., was asked by senior company executives from Miami to temporarily relocate to California, where he began reorganizing the fledgling operation. Mr. Chaplin recalls that after renaming the distributorship Southern Wine & Spirits of California, (it had been called the Landfield Co.), he had to work extremely hard to mend fences with then-existing suppliers and put in place a new management and sales team in order to position the operation for rapid expansion. After overcoming those initial series of challenges, the company then entered a period of steady growth in the Southern California market, year-by-year.

In 1983, Mr. Chaplin and other senior Southern Wine & Spirits of America executives began to execute the company's newly revised and expanded growth plan, one that involved a bold strategy of establishing a statewide distribution capability. Indeed, Southern Wine & Spirits of California established a beachhead in Northern California with its acquisition of a small distributor called Grape Empire. Renamed Southern Wine & Spirits of Northern California, the new division won over both large and small suppliers the company had already represented in Southern California and offered them (as well as prospective brand owners) a potent statewide sales, marketing and distribution presence.

It was an extremely bold initiative, and it involved significant investments in human and financial resources, says Mr. Chaplin. To ensure success and attract new business, the entire statewide division was staffed at numbers that far exceeded what then-current sales levels could ever justify.
Nevertheless, in the mid-1980s, the timing turned out to be perfect for pursuing such an ambitious statewide strategy. In fact, massive consolidations at the retail level triggered a related wave of consolidations at both the distributor and supplier tiers in California and, of course, across the entire United States.

Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.'s statewide distribution venture in California succeeded beyond anyone's expectations at the time. Indeed, it was not long before Southern Wine & Spirits of California assumed the leadership position it proudly holds today in the state. Today, after multiple retail and distributor consolidations across the state, it is Southern Wine & Spirits of California's belief that it would have been difficult to survive and thrive as a successful wine and spirits distributor without offering Mexico-to-Oregon coverage to the state's multitude of different accounts - chain and independent, dozens of different urban and rural clients, on- and off-premise establishments, and much more. Today, Southern Wine & Spirits of California provides unmatched levels of service to individual accounts, brands and suppliers across the state.

It's the first California distributor to achieve statewide distribution capability; the first to reorganize its sales divisions aimed at specific sales channels, including on- and off-premise accounts, chain and independent retailers and restaurateurs and national accounts; and the first California distributor to successfully deploy sales force automation in order to enhance the level of customer service throughout the state; and one of the first California distributors to set up an integrated sales organization capable of implementing statewide sales programs and goals in what had been an extremely fragmented market. The list of "firsts" goes on and on.

About Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc.

Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. is the nation’s largest wine and spirits distributor and broker with operations in 35 markets. The multi-state distributor currently operates in: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Kentucky, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. Southern also holds operating licenses and permits in Nebraska and Texas. On a national basis, Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. employs nearly 14,500 team members. Southern urges all retail customers and adult consumers to market, sell, serve and enjoy its products responsibly. For more information about Southern and its responsible consumption program, see: http://www.southernwine.com.

Southern Wine & Spirits of Pacific Northwest Corporate Social Responsibility

John Klein, Executive Vice President, General Manager of Southern Wine & Spirits of Pacific Northwest (Southern)—encompassing Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Montana—is extremely proud of the large number of Southern team members across all seven states who have offered their volunteer time and donations to a wide range of national, state and local charitable groups. In 2013 and continuing through 2014, Southern has offered support to more than two-dozen different community-based, non-profit organizations across the region.

Columbia Winery Charity Run & Walk—Supporting Seattle Children’s Hospital

For eight years, Matt Haskins, Senior Vice President, Wine for the Pacific Northwest has participated in the Columbia Winery Charity Run & Walk, which benefits the Children’s Hospital in Seattle. In 2013, Southern was one of the single largest independent donor groups of the Charity Run to support families struggling with medical bills. In 2014, Southern employees raised more than $14,000 for the run. The need for uncompensated care grows each year and is expected to exceed more than $100 million this year. Of the 100,000 patients treated at Children’s each year, 65% need financial assistance.

The Columbia Winery Charity Run & Walk is hosted by The Run for Children's Guild. For more information, please visit: http://www.runforchildrens.org

Detlef Schrempf Foundation

In June 2014, Southern donated a selection of wines and spirits from its supplier partners to the 21st Annual Detlef Schrempf Celebrity Gala and Auction. The Detlef Schrempf Foundation serves as a fundraising entity for Northwest children’s charities, enabling organizations to expand their own fundraising efforts.  The foundation’s vision is to assist these organizations in their quest to provide children a better chance at succeeding in life.

Guests of the event included more than 500 local business leaders, celebrities, athletes and philanthropists. Proceeds raised from The Ripple of Giving Gala fund The Healing Center and Inspire Youth Project.

For more information, please visit: http://detlef.com/

Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery

In 2014, Southern donated to the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane, Washington. The mission of the Crisis Nursery is to provide immediate refuge for children and support to strengthen families. This mission evolved from the tragic story of Vanessa Kay Behan, a Spokane girl who died from child abuse injuries at the age of two. Following her death, a group of local business people established the Crisis Nursery so that parents would have a safe place to bring their children in the face of crises.”

The Crisis Nursery provides 24-hour child care for infants and children under the age of seven, parent education, crisis counseling for parents, and referrals to other community agencies. For more information, please visit: http://www.vanessabehan.org/

Covenant House Alaska 2014 Fire and Ice Ball

In January2014, Southern donated wines and spirits from participating supplier partners to the Fire and Ice Ball, with all proceeds going to the Covenant House Alaska. Covenant House Alaska has served thousands of homeless, at-risk, and trafficked youth in Alaska. Their sole purpose is to help youth in crisis 24-hours a day. Through three main programs—emergency shelter, street outreach and transitional living programs—Covenant House Alaska meets the basic needs of youth in crisis, while also providing them with the support to become healthy, self-sufficient, contributing members of our community.

This year's Fire & Ice Ball was a huge success. $500,000 was raised to benefit Covenant House Alaska. In just one night, guests provided funds to keep their doors open 24 hours a day for over 100 days. Thanks to this fun night of fundraising, hundreds of young men and women will have a safe, warm, loving roof over their heads.

For more information, please visit: http://ak.covenanthouse.org/fire-and-ice-ball

Anchorage Robert Burns Appreciation Society:

In 2014, the Anchorage Robert Burns Appreciation Society held its 22nd anniversary of the Anchorage Robert Burns Supper in honor of Scotland's greatest poet, Robert Burns. The charity event proceeds are earmarked for local charitable groups such as local Armed Services YMCA, Food Bank Alaska, and Breast Cancer Focus Alaska, among others.  Southern supported the event though an in-kind donation of wine and spirits.
 For more information, please visit: http://www.tarbas.org/index.php

Oregon Food Bank’s Annual Food Drive

Thanks to the active participation of Southern team members, the annual food drive collected several hundred pounds of non-perishable goods which was donated to the Oregon Food Bank in Portland. The Oregon Food Bank distributes emergency food to hunger-relief agencies throughout Oregon and Clark County, Washington. In addition, Oregon Food Bank’s metro and statewide services teams provide technical assistance and training to hunger-relief agencies and matches local donations to help agencies build capacity to better serve the community.

For more information, please visit: www.oregonfoodbank.org

One Warm Coat

One Warm Coat is a national non-profit organization that assists in the donation of coats. One Warm Coat helps individuals, groups, companies and organizations across the country collect coats and deliver them to local agencies to distribute to people in need.

Southern’s Oregon team partnered with local retail customers to collect and donate several hundred coats for One Warm Coat of Oregon. For more information, please visit: www.onewarmcoat.org

Additional Outreach Efforts

In addition to the charitable, health and community groups noted above, Southern supports City of Hope, Northwest Harvest, Toys for Tots, the YWCA, Boys and Girls Club, Cordova Sockeye Festival, First Friday Art, Cancer Society, UAS Alumni Association, March of Dimes Celebrity Chef event, Fur Rendezvous, Blue Line Youth Hockey, and AK Selects and the Sitka Seafood Festival, which in 2014 will once again feature a special appearance from the Head Winemaker of Rodney Strong Vineyards Rick Sayre. Southern charitably supports the Children’s Cancer Association of Oregon, the Lan Su Chinese Garden, and Elevate Oregon for urban youth.