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Interview: Dina Opici of Opici Family Distributing

March 6, 2018

Opici Family Distributing, the Glen Rock, New Jersey-based subsidiary of the family-owned Opici Wine Group, represents 400 wine and spirits suppliers across an eight-market footprint that includes New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. While sales growth slowed last year due in part to some portfolio shifts, the company still saw single-digit progress. Shanken News Daily contributing editor Terri Allan recently spoke with president Dina Opici about the company’s recent portfolio and geographic expansion.

SND: As a multi-state distributor, what dynamics are you seeing for wine across retail channels?

Opici: The markets are very different. In Florida, we’ve seen a lot of growth in the chain segment as we’ve been investing there. But the larger part of our base comes from independent markets like New York, where we’re the state’s third-largest wine and spirits wholesaler. Overall, we continue to see growth in the on-premise.

SND: With the growth in spirits in recent years, has Opici expanded its spirits portfolio?

Opici: Yes. Today, spirits account for about 20% of our business. We’ve found spirits are a way for us to be more valuable to our customers. Like others, we continue to see a lot of growth in brown spirits, including American whiskies and Scotch. We now have relationships with importers and suppliers like Pacific Edge, Henry Preiss, and 3 Badge Mixology that are helping to diversify our portfolio.

SND: Wine and spirits wholesalers continue to consolidate. What have the shifts in the marketplace meant to Opici Family Distributing?

Opici: For us, consolidation has been tremendous. Wholesaler consolidation in New York 10 years ago forced us to go statewide, and that was the best thing we ever did. Since then, our reputation has allowed us to expand credibly. Today, the pending RNDC-Breakthru merger could impact several of our markets and could provide an opportunity for us.

SND: What are the overriding trends for your wine portfolio?

Opici: We continue to see surging growth for rosés. We have over 200 rosés in our portfolio, whereas two years ago we had 50. In the last six months, many of our California suppliers have come out with rosés. I believe we’ll continue to see expansion there, but I’m not sure how much the marketplace can absorb. The good news is that it has become a year-round category. In our Italian portfolio, many of our suppliers have been impacted by last year’s drought. We’re now discussing how to manage some of the impending shortages.

SND: You chair the WSWA’s Women’s Leadership Council. What’s been the early response and what are its goals going forward?

Opici: The WLC advisory board is made up of some of the best women in the industry, and I feel extremely fortunate to be a part of the effort. The prime purpose is not only to foster relationships between members and provide a platform for the exchange of ideas but to advance women’s careers in the industry. The WLC allows members to discuss common business issues and to communicate to women in the industry that there’s opportunity for growth. We held our first conference last September, and due to its success we’re currently planning for our second conference in September 2018.

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