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A New Twist On An Old Concept

August 10th, 2012 by Dean Ricker

Filed under: Wine

Co-ops in one form or another have been around for centuries. But a new twist on this old concept is making waves in the American wine business. Several talented independent wine makers recently were charged with a simple task: Make the best wine possible and leave the sales and marketing to us. The message came from Rowan Gormley, who launched the U.S. arm of Naked Wines. Naked Wines lets consumers buy wine online from award-winning, independent winemakers. Customers become angel investors in up-and-coming wine talent with a monthly $40 subscription. Visitors to the website can buy one or more bottles of wine or a monthly subscription. The $40 monthly subscription fee goes directly to new winemakers, and the customer receives a $40 credit for wine. Customers buying wine are essentially becoming wine angel investors.

The store selections include champagne, white wine, red wine, rose and sparkling. The fees help self-employed winemakers get started. In turn, members receive free bottle samples and earn a say in how wines should taste (in addition to their store credit). Winemakers take suggestions like "it has too much oak" or "needs more fruit" to heart. The winemakers are sharing the former Blackstone Winery in Kenwood, CA and along with it all of the necessary equipment; bottling equipment, tanks and Skolnik’s Stainless Steel Wine Barrels. The winemakers can focus on what they do best, make wine and leave the marketing to someone else.Naked Wines, which makes a gross margin on its sales, has seen huge success since its founding three years ago. Last year, the company sold 5 million bottles worldwide from over 100 winemakers. Naked Wines’ 12 founders are mostly veteran entrepreneurs who set out to change the wine industry. The UK-based company has expanded to the United States with an office in Napa, Calif. The company has secured funds to open an outpost in Australia, another location where Skolnik’s Stainless Steel Wine Barrels are in wide usage.

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