Everybody loves a good bargain, but few wine connoisseurs would admit to shopping on QVC or Ebay for their wines. Flash sites offer quick deals for the savvy wine consumer, but are they just another flash in the pan?

What are Flash sites? Typically, they are sites that offer deep discounts on products, in this case wine, for a very limited duration—anywhere from 24 to 72 hours, or until sold out.

Some sites are specifically dedicated to wine, while others have branched out to an occasional wine sale while still concentrating primarily on clothing, jewelry and goods for the home. There is no question that these sites provide a great bargain to the consumer, but do they provide benefits and challenges to the winery as well?

In the February 2011 issue, the industry magazine Wines & Vines announced a new feature to monitor and evaluate the more prominent Flash sale sites. The publication identified six of the more prominent, including Gary Vaynerchuk’s Cinderella Wine, wine.woot!, Wines ‘Til Sold Out, The Wine Spies, Wine Shopper, and Lot 18, and tracked some of the wines sold on the sites and the prices offered. (The full digital version of the report is available only to subscribers.) Unfortunately they had trouble getting much input from wineries, citing “dozens of phone calls to normally reliable contacts” that garnered “reluctance to talk about” the sites “either on or off the record.”

I talked to a number of wineries in California—the state Wines & Vines reports as the source of most Flash site offerings—to get the winery perspective. I was particularly interested in their experience and preference for particular Flash sites; lessons learned and thoughts on the future of the Flash sales channel. I contacted wineries with which I not only had an existing relationship, but those whose wines I had recently purchased. Of the eight wineries contacted; three agreed to go “on the record,” three wished to remain anonymous, one did not respond to my request and another refused to provide any specific information, saying:

As far as the experience we had with Rue La La, unfortunately our policy is that all sales outside of direct and wholesale are to remain confidential … my apologies that we can’t provide any information for you!

Wine from those wineries commenting (both on and off the record) were featured on wine.woot!, The Wine Spies, Lot 18, invino, Deals from the Vines, and Rue La La. I did not include Cinderella Wine or Wines ‘Til Sold Out because neither sells to Texas residents due to Texas’ ban on out-of-state retail direct sales to consumers.

There was a general consensus among all the wineries responding that Flash sites offer wineries an additional sales channel that can provide a needed infusion of cash.

“The obvious benefit is that there is an opportunity to move more inventory over a short period than one might through ordinary channels,” says John M. Kelly, Owner & Winemaker at Westwood Winery in Sonoma. “These days most wineries are focused on cash flow over profits, and the deal-a-day sellers are taking advantage of this. It is a supply-driven business model.”

While Kelly won’t “name names,” he finds most of the “deal-a-day” sites, as he calls them, pretty much the same. He notes the major potential drawback is brand damage. “It hurts when heavily-discounted prices show up on Internet aggregator sites,” says Kelly. “There is potentially a persistence to that information that can outlive the deal—and this can damage existing relationships with retailers and wholesalers, and especially direct consumers.”

One Napa Valley winery is less positive on the entire Flash sales experience. The winery sales manager, who prefers to remain anonymous, says, “Like many things in life, so-called ‘Flash’ sites come in many flavors, some more palatable than others.” The manager goes on to say:

There is a common thread to most, but not all, the Flash sites’ business models: passing the deepest possible discount to the consumer by putting sheer pressure on the wine producer to sell as close to cost as they feel they can get. The most aggressive sites are sometimes unconcerned about how good a wine is because to them it is a mere financial transaction. It is wine but it could be anything and, as a matter of fact, some people behind these sites are just replicating their model with other products.

For the wine producer, the Napa Valley sales manager says, it is also a mere financial transaction, although for very different reasons.

Every winery needs cash flow every year to pay their bills. Winemaking is not a business that can be put on hold while the economy gets better. While Flash sites would have their place in a “normal” market situation, their ubiquity is exacerbated by the current economic climate in which some wineries have no other alternative to generate cash-flow.

While this is inherently negative, it cannot be denied that it may be beneficial in certain cases. But at the end of the day, it is not interesting for a reputable producer to sell their wine at the price paid by Flash sites and, in some instances, to the clientele they cater to.

Over the past 18 months, I have purchased about 65 bottles of wine through Flash sites. While primarily through Rue La La and Lot 18, wines also came from Deals From the Vines. At the time of my purchase, The Wines Spies did not ship to Texas, but the winemaker allowed me to purchase and ship directly through the winery at The Wine Spies’ advertised price.

Deals from the Vines provided me the deepest discounts, which honors a promise made to members in their guarantee.

Deals from the Vine

A Facebook closed group “experiment” started by VinTank, Deals from the Vine quickly grew to 1,675 members. Paul Mabray and the folks at VinTank distinguish themselves from the other Flash sites in several ways, first and foremost in creating a community where the buyers and winery interact.

Says Mabray,

Deals from the Vine is an experiment in social commerce. To succeed as such, it requires interaction between members and participating wineries. Deals from the Vines serves both parties: 1) it allows wineries to introduce members to their brand and build relationships; and 2) it brings to members amazing deals on the world’s best wines. Without interaction between the two, wineries cannot build these relationships, and it becomes more difficult to assess whether the deals are meeting members’ expectations.

Many of the group members for Deals from the Vine also interact with each other regularly on Twitter.

“It’s a cool little set up they have going,” says Jeff Stai of Twisted Oak, in Calaveras County, California. “Vintank doesn’t take any fees, so Deals from the Vine can be a sandbox where you can try out some oddball ideas and see how they go. My couple of attempts were fun, but didn’t generate many sales and most of the sales were repeat customers.”

Known on twitter as “El Jefe,” Stai is a maverick when it comes to social media savvy. About his experience with Deals from the Vine he says, “I learned something about oddball deals—they’re tricky!” he says. “If you can’t explain it in a sentence, it probably won’t work.”

Beginning in October 2010, Deals from the Vine offered its members 28 different “deals.” My purchases in particular reflected an overall 60 percent discount from winery direct prices. While hailed as a success, it is currently on hiatus, promising a new site independent of Facebook. In a letter to members, Mabray writes,

Due to the limitations of Facebook groups, we will be enhancing this program by launching a true site outside of Facebook that is more interactive and will help us better serve you and our wineries for no fees to either party. When we launch the new site we will be reflecting all deals from the site in this group. We do hope you will migrate with us to the new site which will be full of bells and whistles and will strive to find the best deals of wines for all of you and try all kinds of wackiness to help you connect directly with wineries.

It is the interaction, in addition to the cash, that wineries find particularly valuable. “They put bottles of your wine into the hands of many new consumers. I’ve had many visitors to the tasting room who purchased our wine for the first time at a Flash sale, ” says another Napa Valley winery owner.

Of the sites I visit, one seems to be generating quite a buzz since its inception.

Lot 18

The brainchild of the Philip James, founder of the wickedly popular Snooth.com, and technology entrepreneur Kevin Fortuna, Lot 18 is based in New York City with a “procurement” team based in California wine country. Unlike Cinderella Wine, Lot 18 holds no wine sales license, but acts as promoter and advertiser for the winery, who then ships the orders to the customer. It does charge a flat shipping (or processing) fee of $9.95 per bottle, but offers free shipping on multiple orders of a single wine (4-6 bottles).

Wines & Vines’ tracking of all Lot 18 offerings in December 2010 shows an average discount of 39 percent. Of the 18 bottles I have purchased since January 2011, average price per bottle for me has been about $28, reflecting an average discount off retail of 46 percent.

Wineries commenting reported favorable experiences with Lot 18, which stood out positively when compared to some of the other Flash sale sites. This was particularly true for smaller production, artisan wine companies.

“From the perspective of a boutique winery we don’t see a benefit in working with the majority of Flash sale sites because their pricing model is not attractive to us and we would lose money on the proposition,” says John Ogden, who manages marketing, sales, and business operations for Olson Ogden Wines in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. “We chose to work with Lot 18 because the way the wine is positioned on the website is representative of our luxury brand, it’s great for new customer acquisition, and their business model allowed us to sell our wine at a profit.”

Another Sonoma County winery sales manager, who prefers to speak anonymously, also reports positive results. Recommended to him by a local sommelier, he says Lot 18 offers a higher level of competency than other sites he used, and that the deal was done in just a few weeks. “We were 40 cases from being sold out and wanted to move on to the next vintage,” he says. “They were very easy to work with.”

While their agreement with Lot 18 disallows wineries contact with buyers after the sale, absent a new contact directly from the consumer, wineries say it achieves another goal: introducing them to new, potentially repeat customers.

“We are prohibited from contacting the customer directly after the sale. However, this is not an issue for us because we’ve found that customers who buy Olson Ogden Wines from Lot 18 are actively signing up for our mailing list,” says Ogden. While I purchased Olson Ogden Syrahs and other wines I had already tried as samples, Lot 18 did introduce me to some other wineries whose products I’ve since purchased at my local retailer.

The aforementioned Napa Valley sales manager says one key element of this discussion is how public or how private the offer is made by the Flash site.”To a producer like us, this has more bearing than the price,” says the manager. “We believe that sites that cater to just their members in a private manner and can prove to us that their clientele has the profile we are looking for are a valid sales channel because it allows our wine to reach customers that would be otherwise very difficult for us to identify. In some specific cases, the low price we received from the Flash site is a cost well worth paying.”

Twisted Oaks’ Stai agrees. “I feel that the real attraction of a Flash site is new customer acquisition,” he says. “The best sites give you both a fair return on the product and give you the chance to convert their customer to your customer.”

Flash sites help move inventory as well as introduce potential new customers to the winery brand. But are they all fair? Wineries weighed in.

“There are some Flash sites—I won’t name names—that I don’t personally consider fair,” says Stai. He indicates some sites that require wineries to market the Flash site to its own mailing list. “I don’t feel that my customers and fans expected that when they signed up with me.”

Now Selling Wine: Rue La La

Sites like Rue La La focus primarily on women’s fashion, but also include sales on menswear, home furnishings, and have recently added travel to their bevy of offerings. While billed as a member-only site, Rue La La allows current members to invite others, offering $10 of credit per referral after the new member’s first purchase. They offer excellent and prompt customer service to their members with only an occasional hiccup in the buying process. Rue La La began offering Flash deals on wine in late 2009. Discounts range from 30 to 50 percent off published suggested retail prices for bundled deals of two or more bottles up to mixed cases. Wine is shipped directly from the winery or winery fulfillment house, and customers are not charged until the wine actually ships.

As a consumer, I have purchased 24 bottles through Rue La La since November 2009, with an average price of $33 per bottle. While in the beginning I purchased wines with which I was unacquainted, I began watching for familiar names in order to augment my cellar with wines I had already tasted and knew I liked.

In one particular instance, my Rue La La purchase of three bottles turned into a shipment of an entire mixed case, after I had received a notice first that the winery could not ship to my state, and then an apology saying my three bottles were on their way. Luckily my credit card was charged only for the three-bottle order, but I felt obligated to contact the winery to remedy the over shipment—not so much because I’m an overly honest goody-two-shoes, but that I didn’t want to be on the other side when Karma came to collect.

Rue La La charges a flat fee of $9.95 for all orders placed in a single day, so if one were to combine a wine order with clothing or kitchen appliances, it is safe to assume that the cost of the shipping is covered by the winery as a deduction from total sales.

From the winery perspective, those commenting were less impressed with Rue La La. The Sonoma County winery sales manager says the transaction was arduous and convoluted, and Rue La La created some pretty big expectations and then did not deliver. While wines I purchased from this winery offered outstanding quality, some others on Rue La La have been disappointingly past their prime.

Another Napa Valley winery owner sees this as a by-product of market saturation. He said he is backing away from the Flash site market because in his opinion, they have hit their high water mark. “There are too many of them now so the general quality level of the wines being offered is going down. Some days they offer wines I haven’t heard of or are not very interesting. The excess inventory they live on is drying out at quality wineries.”

Perhaps, but one particular Flash site with monster traffic stats is keeping some wineries happy.

wine.woot!

Jeff Stai calls wine.woot! the “big daddy of them all.” With monster traffic stats in December (555,555 pageviews reported) wine.woot! also offers wineries an opportunity to interact with would-be customers, and Stai reports a great experience:

Wine.woot! has online forums set up so that the winery can interact with their potential customers during the sale. This is actually quite powerful and definitely drives sales for the winery that best takes advantage of it—there is your ROI on social media. And it does not hurt that their overall customer base is HUGE.

Stai reports a quirk of wine.woot!, unlike most if not all other wine Flash sites, is that at the end of the sale the final stats are displayed. He shared the stats of Twisted Oak’s most recent deal, which show a number of aspects of the Flash event including number of three-packs sold, percentage of sales per hour, and where the sales come from. There is a description of the winery as well as five pages of discussion during the event.

“So you can see that we sold 683 three-packs, which is roughly three pallets of wine,” says Stai. “I’ll sell three pallets of wine all day at near-FOB!”

Stai says wine.woot! also allows the winery to add any marketing information to the shipped box, including a follow-on deal. Stai says he offered a six-pack of Twisted Oak *%#&@! red Rhône-style MSG blend exclusive to the wine.woot! purchasers, which has generated dozens of additional sales.

Getting Around Direct-to-Consumer Shipping Restrictions

Flash sites can also offer an end-around to consumers who live in states prohibiting retail direct shipping from online sites like Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, JJ Buckley, and Cinderella Wine. While some state laws ban direct shipments entirely, others allow shipments from wineries as long as those wineries have the proper state permits. Flash sites operate in the gray area, promoting a number of wines from different wineries, much like a retail website. But because the wine ordered on these sites is shipped directly from the winery or a winery fulfillment company, consumers in those states with only a ban on retail-to-consumer shipping can still take advantage of “sales” not offered at the winery or on the winery website.

To keep everything on the up-and-up, some Flash sites like Rue La La do not charge the the buyer’s credit card until the wine ships from the winery. How is this legal? Technically the Flash site is simply arranging shipping for the buyer, who takes title to the wine from the winery, a loophole often used by retailers who operate in states like California and Washington.

For the consumer, it is caveat emptor. Know your state’s shipping laws. Look for reputable sites and get referrals from friends when making big purchases on new wines. Leave the unknown for the smaller buys.

The Future of Wine Flash Sites; Lessons Learned

While some of the wineries see Flash sites as purely a byproduct of a bad economy, others think they are here to stay.

“I see a chicken-and-egg question in whether deal-a-day operations are simply taking advantage of the zeitgeist, or have created a new demographic of customer,” says Westwood Winery’s John M. Kelly. “Whether these sites are a cause or a symptom, it seems that the typical deal-a-day customer is more focused on the deal than on the wine itself. There is a very low conversion rate to repeat retail customer for us as a winery. I imagine there is a fairly high conversion rate to repeat customer for the sites themselves.”

Kelly advises wineries thinking about turning to Flash sites to do their homework and not over commit. The Sonoma County winery sale manager sees Flash sites as just one more discount strategy for wineries. “The best ones will thrive and the lesser ones will go away.” The Napa Valley winery owner was less optimistic.

“The excess inventory they live on is drying out at quality wineries,” he says. “During the worst of the recession there was little attention paid to discounting as everyone and everybody was doing it. Now the economy is getter stronger and inventories are lower a winery needs to be more concerned with maintaining their price points.”

As the economy improves, he says, the traditional distribution channels are returning to their former strength and will pull more quality away from the Flash sale sites.

“I think in 2012 you’ll start to see them disappear as quickly as they appeared, but the best few will survive, as is normal.”


Amy Corron PowerAmy Corron Power is a licensed e-Discovery attorney with a background in marketing and public relations. A writer and photographer for Another Wine Blog, and regular TasteLive! panelist, she has also covered college football and basketball for a number of sports publications including ESPN.com. A member of the Society of Wine Educators and a self-avowed political junkie, she occasionally contributes to the nationally syndicated blog, MOMocrats™.

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  • David Dunn

    Completely agree with your assessment of Lot18. The way the winery’s brand is represented is first rate. I am particularly impressed with their ability to present hard-to-find wines at such an incredible price. I’m glad they’re not strong-arming the wineries just to present the deal to consumers.

    While the site is invitation-only, the following link can be used to gain access to their offerings:

    http://www.lot18.com/i/FriendsandFamily

    • C Wells

      The WORST thing about Lot18 is how they have ‘employed’ legions of wine forum members who then use a thinly veiled veneer to talk up Lot18 and at the end listing a link, only sometimes stating, ‘I get credit if you click this link’. Personally, I think anyone who pimps Lot18′s Amway way should be banned from forums. Lot18 ARE a clever lot, they have an employee that has a perfect score on the SAT. Win win I say !!!

      • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Amy Corron Power

        I usually provide people an invite if they ask. So far I haven’t had any problems except for having to re enter my billing address each time I order. That’s a bit annoying but otherwise I do like being able to pick up good wines at a flash price.

  • http://www.1winedude.com 1WineDude

    Great overview.

    AND… great example on wine..woot of Jeff Stai interacting with customers & that converting to sales; it’s the kind of thing wineries and others in the biz keep telling me doesn’t happen, and then I keep givingt hem examples like that one! :)

    Cheers!

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Amy Corron Power

      Thanks Dude! El Jefe is successful because he creates relationships via interaction rather than just using it as a sales tool. I think that’s sometimes where wineries miss the boat — they don’t the social media interaction aspect for what it is.

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  • http://www.wineguyla.xom DavidO

    Thoroughly enjoyed the in-depth coverage of this piece on this particular topic; one that has me intrigued.

    But I do want to weigh in a disagreement, one that has long been discussed among friends as why more people do not buy wine on-line: shipping charges. Believe me I know, i get it, shipping is expensive. But when entered in to a modest purchase, not all the sites’ discounts are anywhere near as attractive as the article seems to report.

    I am assuming your “averages” were all based on fairly large purchases probably 6 to 12 bottles. In my experience, that may be quite high for the average consumer. As someone in the wine industry I have been intrigues by the sites and only have done a cursory experiment in buying. Acting like the average buyer that wants to try or can only afford a few bottles, when i put wines in my cart and check shipping I am shocked. Just the other day I went to purchase two bottles fo white Bordeaux form Lot 18. The two bottle pack was i think $19.95 with an additional $19.80 for shipping, discount to me 0%! I could buy 4 bottles of equal quality wine at my wine shop and be home drinking that evening for as much or less.

    • http://www.twistedoak.com/ El Jefe

      You’re right – it is all about shipping. The wine.woot deal is so attractive to many consumers – even though you are buying a bundle – because the shipping is a flat $5.

      The fact about shipping is that putting a box of air on the delivery truck defines most of the cost. Adding bottles after that is incremental. That’s why you see so many deals that involve a quantity purchase to get to a lower (or “free”) shipping cost. It’s much more palatable to spread that cost across more bottles – e.g. it might cost $10 for one bottle but $16 for six.

      The Lot18 pricing doesn’t really reflect this reality. It costs about the same to ship 1 or 2 bottles so a doubling doesn’t really make sense. Maybe that’s their way of encouraging the upsell…

      • David Dunn

        I agree that Wine.Woot has the most competitive shipping price at $5. But, Lot18 has been a good option for me because shipping is free for 4 bottles. I usually go in with a friend so he gets 2 and I get two and we both enjoy the free ship. They also run free shipping promos at least once every month so you can get free shipping on even a single bottle. Definitely not a sustainable practice, but good for consumers in the short term while VC money is flowing. They also have multi-packs with free shipping. I just picked up a 3-pk of 2006 Ravenswood Zinfandel Todd Vineyard zinfandel for $69 with free shipping. The $23/bottle price is significantly less than the lowest (pre-shipping charge) price of $35 on wine-searcher.com.

    • David Dunn

      The $19.80 or so shipping amount might have been due to purchasing different wines. This is the drawback of Lot18. They have a flat shipping rate of $9.99 for <3 bottles of the same wine. If you hit 4 bottles, the shipping is free. However, Lot18 is really just a sales channel for the wineries and do not actually have inventory. The wine is shipped by the winery themselves. Therefore, purchasing wines from two different wineries will result in two shipping charges. You can't mix-n-match to get to the 4 bottle mark.

      Only option is to find a friend to go in with you or wait for the free ship events.

      Another compelling reason to look into Lot18 is the occasional presence of 50-60% off coupons on sites like LivingSocial. Pay $30 and get $75 in credits on the site. The 3pk of Ravenswood Todd Vineyard zin wound up to be about $13/bottle shipped.

      • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Amy Corron Power

        My “averages” were not for 6 – 12 cases of wine. The most I’ve ever purchased at a time was 4 bottles (2, 2-bottle bundles for free shipping). I found if I use my own FedEx account at some venues I can get a better ship rate. But considering you’re often getting the wine for 50%, you still save money, even if you pat for shipping. Again, it’s a trade off.

  • http://vinecrowd.com Jennifer Kaplan

    Ugh. With the exception of Deal from the Wines, these other sites are no better than Walmart. They engage in predatory pricing from wineries that typically need, not want, but need to sell their wine. And that can’t be good for the industry and certainly isn’t good for smaller, higher quality wineries(big wineries with bigger margins can take the price gouging a bit better). And, of course, brand equity will take a hit when consumers see a wine at 50% off. What would you do if you saw a Louis Vuitton purse at 50% off? Wineries should be very careful. We need a new model where wineries are given fair margins and consumers get better access to wine (disclaimer: we are launching a different kind of flash site by month’s end), not a model built on unsustainable margins for wineries. There are (and will be)far better ways to reach new the DTC customers that wineries seek. Its our prediction that the quality of flash site inventories will continue to deteriorate as the economy improves and wineries no longer need to sell at below FOB.

    Jennifer Kaplan
    VineCrowd.com

    • http://www.veraisonmarketinggroup.com Patrick

      We offer wineries an opportunity to capture more direct-to-consumer sales including wine club membership registrations, via our social-mobile smartphone network. Our goal is to connect the winery directly to the consumer thru the device consumers always have with them. http://www.veraisonmarketinggroup.com

      Patrick

    • http://www.twistedoak.com/ El Jefe

      One of the reasons I do business with wine.woot is that they offer me a reasonable return and a fair chance to capture new customers. During the sale you have direct access to their community to engage and answer questions. They only charge $5 for shipping on whatever amount is ordered. And for no extra charge you can add something to each box shipped. Yes, the offering price is low but for a small winery trying to get out there having a bit of a “loss leader” is a way to get your wine into potential new customer’s glasses for the first time. And you definitely get out of it what you put into it.

      I agree that many of the others are very predatory, and that’s why you won’t see my wine listed there – but in my opinion wine.woot isn’t one of them. I wish you well in your new venture and truly hope that it is one that I would be willing to do business with.

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Amy Corron Power

      The wineries I talked to didn’t see them all as “predatory.” Some are, and some aren’t. Take a look at Jeff Stai’s success with wine.woot! And believe me, in my opinion, NOTHING could be as predatory as the Big Box store you reference.

    • James Hunt

      I think your analysis is a lot less nuanced than that of the article, and others on the topic. Trashing them to promote your site isn’t worthy, and transparent.

      And your site is te worst-designed, most ill-conceived amateur effort I’ve seen in the sector. And the deals are equally hopeless, with small discounts on wine I’ve never heard of, with little information or community-building.

      IMHO, get back to the day job, rather than promoting your site a the bottom of articles.

  • http://www.palatepress.com David Honig

    There is one other aspect of flash sales that is worth considering. Consumers are coming to expect 50% discounts. This makes it hard to sell good wine at a reasonable price. Given a $20 bill and an internet connection, which are most people likely to buy, the flash sale offering a recommended $40 wine for $20, or a very highly recommended $20 wine for $20? People are seeking “bargains,” and “bargains” are defined, not a good wine at a good price, but wine at a cut-rate price.

    What does this mean for the future of wine selling and wine buying? I fear it means a good wine at a good price is a bad business model, and that is sad.

  • http://wineoscope.wordpress.com Erika Szymanski

    Idiot neophyte question: why does marketing only to “members” make a difference? From the flash site’s perspective, I understand the desire to appear exclusive; everyone wants to be part of the in-crowd. From the winery’s perspective, though, (per “the aforementioned Napa Valley sales manager) why does membership matter?

    • http://www.anotherwineblog.com Amy Corron Power

      Erika:

      I think the “marketing only to members” keeps the discounted price out of search engines, and thus limiting the chance of brand damaging that some of the winery folks referenced.

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  • http://vinecrowd.com Jennifer Kaplan

    Amy, thanks for your response. We are about to launch a wine site built specifically because most wineries don’t want to sell via flash sites.They want the benefits that flash sites afford. Many of the wineries we’ve talked to want an online partner that is just that, a partner, in selling great wine to wine drinkers who can’t get to their wineries. And as real partners, we won’t be charging excessive terms in the same way that honest coffee shops buy fair trade coffee. We respect our partner wineries’ margins. We wouldn’t dream of asking our partners to sell at below FOB. We believe in the triple bottom line where every stakeholder receives sustainable returns. Most of the sites mentioned above seem to be demanding pricing and terms that ranges from undesirable to unsustainable. No doubt, consumers enjoy the low prices, but most of the sales are being siphoned off retailers. We know consumers will still buy wine at more sustainable prices. So the question is whether the model is good for the industry, not whether consumers enjoy the inexpensive wine they would be buying at more reasonable prices.

    • http://palatepress.com David Honig

      Jennifer, It will be interesting to see how your site does in the Flash Site market. I suspect that people are not going to be attracted to 20% discounts when their in-box is filled with “50% off!”

  • http://vinecrowd.com Jennifer Kaplan

    Dear Palate Press readers:

    We’re up! If you’d like beta access to our new site please visit us:

    View the site: http://vinecrowd.com/wines
    Sign up code: CROWDIE

    Thanks!
    Jennifer & Mike
    Founders, VineCrowd

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  • http://mgraves.org Michael Graves

    I started buying wine from Woot.com a few years ago. From that experience my willingness to spend has increased considerably. Now I occasionally buy from them, but more often from others…and not at such huge discounts. Now I’m more selective about what I’ll buy. Lot 18 for instance offers so many deals, so frequently that one simply must ignore most of them or be drowning in wine.

    However, based on a shipment of Scott Harvey wines bought on Woot I joined that wineries club and have been receiving routine shipments, and occasionally re-ordering, for over two years. I make that a win for the wine maker in the use of Woot.

    • Richard Hodkinson

      Michael

      I’ll agree there. woot has made me a firm fan of Scott Harvey and the amazing Wellington Winery in Sonoma too, along with some more well-known names like Kent Rasmussen and Corison. And introduced to a heap more, with unprecedented talking to some great (and also some average…) winemakers! And some great mavericks and inventors like WineSmith! The reason I stick around? The community has educated and entertained me to the extent that now some people see me as someone to learn from, and I’m still learning more! That’s a good community.

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