Quality Brand Imports allows European wine producers to introduce their products directly to US retailers and to sell directly to US wholesalers in many US states.

Quality Brand Imports acts as the Importer of Record.  We do not purchase the wine from producers and we do not sell the wine to wholesalers (subject to state law).  QBI handles all requirements of the federal importer including label approval (COLA), import into the United States, and customs clearance*.

We facilitate mutually beneficial relationships between wine producers in Europe and wine buyers in the United States while reducing the cost of European wines in the US supply chain.  We offer our service at a flat fee, per bottle pricing.

* Service provided by a licensed customs broker

Quality Brand Imports assists wine producers with

  • Obtaining state alcohol board licenses/permits as needed.
  • Obtaining state alcohol board label approvals as needed.
  • Advice about federal TTB, FDA, and state alcohol boards regulations.
  • Logistics services from Europe to the US and within the US.
  • Contacts and communication with retailers and wholesalers.
  • Sample shipments to US wine buyers.
  • TTB Tax credits and VAT reimbursements to US customers.

Quality Brand Imports does not act as a gatekeeper who decides which wines are available in the US market.  We leave this up to the retailers.

Allowing retailers to decide which wines will be imported reverses the supply chain demand flow, reduces risk, and lowers cost.  And increases the probability that consumers will buy the wines.  Consumers are the ultimate decision-makers if a wine will be successful in the US market.

What types of European wineries benefit from our services?  Wineries who are new to the US market as well as producers who already have a presence in the US market but are looking for better options to offer their wines to both retailers and wholesalers at a lower cost – to make them more competitive with US wines and wines from other parts of the world.

Want to learn more?  Join Quality Brand Imports and our partners for a series of upcoming webinars in which we will discuss regulatory, legal, and procedural issues for the import, sales, and marketing of European wines in the United States.

Click here to view the webinars.


Cellar 62

We developed Cellar62 as a b2b wine marketplace.  It allows producers in Europe to showcase their wines to retail buyers in the US market.

Cellar62 is designed, built, and managed by Sevenscope in Portugal. Their team has many years of web development and design experience.

Why did we name it Cellar62?  50 stars on the US flag and 12 stars on the EU flag = 62 stars.  Cellar62!

Cellar62 will feature a microsite for each participating winery to feature their story, history, wines as well as pricing (EXW or FOB US port) to the US supply chain.

Cellar62 complements the import services of Quality Brand Imports.

For more information visit cellar62.com


Benefits for European wineries and regions:

  • Introduce and showcase your wines and region to US retailers on Cellar62.
  • Give US buyers access to your entire portfolio.
  • Communicate directly with US retailer buyers and sell directly to US wholesalers (subject to state law).
  • Access to import services at a flat per-bottle fee.
  • A full refund of CBMA tax benefits to the foreign winery if assigned to Quality Brand Imports (up to $451,700 annually).
  • Offer prices FOB US port to the entire supply chain.
  • Assistance with sample shipments to US buyers.
  • Assistance with wine brand and private label creation.
  • Access to lists of US wine retailers.
  • Access to buyer contacts at US wine retailers.
  • Access to information about the US wine retail environment in all 48 continental US states.
  • Access to information about alcohol regulations in all 48 continental US states.
  • Access to information about regulations in US control states.
  • Access to resources on how to market your wines in the US market.
  • Consulting sessions to develop a strategy for success in the US wine market.
  • Access to marketing services provided by Quality Brand Promotions and our partners.
  • Access to services of an international law firm familiar with all aspects of doing business in Europe and the US.

Benefits for US wholesalers and retailers:

  • Direct access to European wine producers and their entire portfolio.
  • Communicate directly with European producers.
  • Source wines of interest to you.
  • Consolidate container shipments from Europe to the US port closest to you.
  • Reduced cost and simplified supply chain.
  • Assistance with European VAT refunds.

Avantages de participer à Cellar62 et de travailler avec Quality Brand Imports

Vorteile einer Zusammenarbeit mit Cellar62 und Quality Brand Imports

Benefícios de participar na Cellar62 e trabalhar com a Quality Brand Imports


We put together the following information to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about Quality Brand Imports and Cellar62.

What is an importer of record?

An importer of record is a party that is authorized by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to import products into the United States.  QBI acts as a selling agent on behalf of foreign wineries and can thereby act as the importer of record without buying and selling the products being imported.

QBI has obtained a ruling from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and confirmed with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) that it is legal and permissible to act as a federal wine importer without holding title to the products being imported.

Instead of Quality Brand Imports buying the wines from the foreign winery and selling to an entity in the US, it allows foreign wineries to sell directly to permit holders such as wholesalers and wineries in US states that permit this business model.  Not all state alcohol boards do allow it, but many do.

What is the difference between QBI and a traditional wine importer?

Traditional wine importers generally buy wines from wineries, import, and stock these wines in the US.  In many instances, they ask for exclusive rights to sell the wines in the US market without any firm sales commitment.

European wines generally retail in the US market for 4 x EXW.  The retail cost of European wines in the US market can be double the retail cost in Europe or even higher.  That makes them uncompetitive with wines from other countries as well as US wines.

QBI allows for the supply chain demand flow to be reversed.  Instead of importers deciding which wines will be imported into the US, retailers can decide which wines they want to buy and allow multiple wholesalers to bid for the business.  This reduces risk, and cost and allows wines to be sold at lower retail prices.

Do I have to sign an exclusive agreement with QBI?

No, we never ask any producer to sign an exclusive agreement with QBI.  We strongly advise against exclusive agreements with any importer.

What if I already work with an importer in the United States, can I work with QBI?

That depends if you signed an exclusive agreement with another importer and the nature of the agreement.  We are working with a well-known international law firm that can review any agreement you have with other importers to determine what your options are.

I am already working with wholesalers in the US market.  Can I still work with Quality Brand Imports?

Yes, if they are located in US states that permit direct sales to wholesalers.  We do recommend that you work with wholesalers preferred by retailers interested in your products.  Therefore, unless state regulations require it, we do recommend not giving any exclusivity to wholesalers.  Retailers – especially larger ones – are in the best position to negotiate pricing with wholesalers.

Can European wineries sell directly to wine wholesalers in every US state?

While this works in the majority of states, alcohol regulations in some states do not allow this arrangement.  You can contact QBI for more information about state regulations.  QBI can provide detailed information about the rules and regulations of the alcohol boards in all 48 continental US states.

Can QBI act as an importer in states that do not allow wineries to sell directly to US wholesalers?

Yes.  In that case, QBI can act as a ‘regular’ importer.  Such situations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

What is the three-tier system?

The three-tier system for the sale of alcoholic beverages was set up in the US after the repeal of Prohibition.  The three tiers are producers; distributors; and retailers.  Under the three-tier system, producers can sell to wholesalers who then sell to retailers, and only retailers may sell to consumers.  A member of one tier may not have ownership in a member of a different tier.  For example, a wine wholesaler may not own wine retail stores.  However, there are many different exceptions to the three-tier system in many states.

Are there exceptions to the three-tier system?

Yes.  For example, in some states wineries can sell and ship directly to consumers.  In the control states, a state agency may act as a wholesaler and retailer at the same time.  In some states, breweries are allowed to own beer wholesalers.

What is COLA?

The Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) is issued by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).  It allows the wine to be imported and sold in the US market.

Is it allowed to obtain a COLA for the same wine under different labels?

Yes, that is permissible under TTB regulations.

What is the processing time for COLA approval?

If all information on the label is correct, the total wait and processing time for wine labels is generally less than two weeks.

What is the cost to obtain a COLA?

TTB does not charge any fee for COLA processing.  QBI charges $25 per Certificate of Label Approval (COLA).

Do wine labels need to be approved by state alcohol boards?

Some state alcohol boards do require separate label approval, some do not.  However, once TTB has approved the label on the federal level, the label will generally be approved by the state alcohol boards as well.  Quality Brand Imports will advise wineries which states do require separate label approval and the cost.

How much does QBI charge for its import services?

We charge a flat fee of $0.25/bottle to import wine into the United States.  This fee does not include transport costs, custom broker fees, and import duties and taxes.

If wineries or regions work with our sister company Quality Brand Promotions to market their wines in the US market, QBI reduces the flat fee to $0.10/bottle.

What are the federal tax rates for wine?

For wine containing 16% and under alcohol by volume, the tax is $1.07/gallon.  More information can be found on the TTB website (ttb.gov/tax-audit/tax-and-fee-rates#wine).  Tax credits up to $1.00/gallon are available.  See below.

What about CBMA tax benefits?

Starting on January 01, 2023, the Alcohol and Tabacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) will administer the CBMA tax benefits that importers can obtain if assigned to them by the foreign wine producer.  More information can be found on this website: www.ttb.gov/alcohol/cbma-imports

For wine, tax credits apply to the first 750,000 wine gallons of that producer’s product imported into the United States during a calendar year.  The credits are, for each foreign producer, $1 per wine gallon on the first 30,000 wine gallons of wine imported, 90 cents on the next 100,000 wine gallons imported, and 53.5 cents on the next 620,000 wine gallons imported.

Quality Brand Imports will refund all CBMA tax benefits assigned by a foreign producer to the foreign producer once received from TTB.  That is up to $451,700 annually!

Our wine brand is already established in the US market.  Does Quality Brand Imports offer a discounted price in those situations?

Yes, QBI offers the import service for FCL shipments from one supplier in Europe to one consignee in the US for a rate of $0.10/bottle. This fee does not include transport costs, custom broker fees, and import duties and taxes.

What is the initial investment to participate in Cellar62?

The Cellar62 annual membership fee is €2,995 for the first year.  Discounts of up to 25% are offered for the first 50 wineries to participate.

Why is there an annual fee to participate in Cellar62?

Cellar62 is developed, created, and managed by Sevenscope in Portugal.  Sevenscope is an experienced web developer and charges a fee to run Cellar62.  By separating the fee charged by Quality Brand Imports and Sevenscope we make the entire process more transparent.  Vineyards know who provides which service at what cost.

How do wineries obtain contacts at US retailers?

Cellar62 provides such contacts to wineries free of charge.

Can European wineries sell directly to US consumers?  

Yes, in a limited number of states that is possible.  Please contact QBI for more information.

Do I have to work with QBI to participate in Cellar62?

Yes, Cellar62 was developed by Sevenscope in Portugal and QBI to help European wineries market and sell their products in the US market.  Cellar62 complements the services of QBI.

Do you have to sign up for Cellar62 to work with Quality Brand Imports?

No. However, for wineries not participating in Cellar62, Quality Brand Imports only handles the import of FCL (full containers).  Do keep in mind that all promotion of wineries to retailers in the US market is handled via Cellar62.  Therefore, we strongly recommend that European wineries do participate in Cellar62.  The many benefits offered by Cellar62 are a smart investment.  If your budget does not allow for participating in Cellar62, our import and sales system may not be a good fit for you.

How do you define success in the US market for European wines?

Here at Quality Brand Imports, we define success for European wines the same way as you would define it for any consumer product:  Repeat purchases by the consumer.  Any other definition is really just an illusion.


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