The best model for online wine deals is at the brink of extinction, but we can bring it back.
We know nothing good lasts forever. It’s just the way life is. That Syrah in the cellar passes its peak. Summer turns to fall. iPhones get slower with every update. True Detective season two. And now we learn the winery-direct model for online wine sales is in its final days.
That one hurts a little. Because it was our baby.
Way back in 2006, we created a site where domestic U.S. winemakers could sell their product to customers all over the country — including places they couldn’t reach through traditional distribution channels. Before long, an active and knowledgeable community of wine lovers started to gather there, buying wines to which they didn’t previously have access, and sharing the mutual benefit of their collective knowledge and insight about the wines offered for sale. It was pretty cool. You might have heard of it. We called it Wine.Woot.
Our direct producer-to-consumer model was compelling enough that no less a juggernaut of Internet retail than Amazon adopted it for their own wine marketplace. They had separately acquired our Wine.Woot business as well. These were pretty good times for oenophiles interested in finding and trying wines their local outlets didn’t carry.
Then, this past fall, following their announced acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon let users know they’d be shuttering both Wine.Woot and their own wine marketplace at the end of the year. And like that, one of the best online experiences for wine enthusiasts will cease to exist.
We pioneered the winery-direct retail model for wine fans to buy online, from winemakers, with no middlemen. We created this method - we're not even a store, the wine you’re buying is sold by the producing winery. So no one’s better positioned than we are to step in and rescue it from extinction like John Hammond with the velociraptors. We’re calling this new iteration Casemates.
On Casemates, you’ll find fresh wine deals three times a week (on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), and we’ll be building tools to let you share by-the-case orders with other users near you for better deals than ever. Split an order with friends you never knew you had — and share the savings you get from shipping a whole case.
There’s no more efficient way to ship wine, and no better way for the Casemates community to reap the benefit of their own numbers — and our logistical optimization know-how.
Building strong and cohesive user communities has paid dividends in all our online ventures, but this will be the first time our users will realize a direct, material benefit simply by the fact of each other’s existence. We’re pretty excited about it. We'll still offer the best smaller-lot events in the market too, but shared case orders will be where users find the greatest efficiency, and subsequently the best value.
Our team comprises all-star veterans of the online wine retail world, including David Studdert of Wine Country Connect, and Matt Rutledge of A Mediocre Corporation.
As President of Wine Country Connect, Studdert has industry-leading expertise in wine-specific logistics and fulfillment services, and is the godfather of the winery-direct model of online wine sales.
Rutledge is the founder of the daily deals site Woot.com, which partnered with Wine Country Connect to create Wine.Woot in the summer of 2006. Amazon bought Woot and its Studdert-cofounded wine business in 2010.
Longtime participants at Wine.Woot may also recognize a few of our other team members by their online aliases. If you see a familiar handle in the Casemates forum, say hi! This group has a track record of putting together the most attractive wine offers in the market, and we intend to continue doing just that. And we’re more committed than ever to get the winemakers themselves involved online, answering users’ questions and sharing expertise. It’s going to be fun.
(Depending on each Winery’s registration status, up to 92.14% of the US population can currently receive the winery direct shipments offered on Casemates. At this time the following states are excluded: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah.)
Risks and challenges
Casemates will need a strong and vibrant community to succeed. It’s always possible we could build it and they would not come. But given our team's experience, we’re confident there’s no one better positioned to give this particular endeavor a try than we are.
We’re hopeful this Kickstarter campaign will both demonstrate the likelihood of a favorable outcome, and help us find some of the key community members we’ll need to help cultivate the type of strong, healthy community which will be essential to Casemates’s success.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (15 days)