Amazon woos lovers of the vine with new wine store

Amazon is designing the perfect Friday night in.

After introducing a $7.99 monthly Prime membership option, which includes access to Instant Video content and free two-day shipping, the company Thursday rolled out its much-rumored Amazon Wine store.

Amazon’s foray into wine sales is notable because of the compliance issues involved in direct-to-consumer wine sales. Many states prohibit wineries from shipping directly to residents. So far, Amazon is working around those regulations by only shipping wine to 12 states, including California, and to residents of Washington D.C.

A traditional three-tier distribution system is currently in place in many states, which means you have to buy wine at a store that receives shipments from distributors. Large distributors often leave out boutique wineries, which will now have the opportunity to sell directly to Amazon customers.

The Wine Institute, a California trade group of wineries, says in a statement that “consumers should have access to the wines they wish to purchase” and that the group “supports direct-to-consumer sales based on the laws of each state and welcomes creative companies, like Amazon, that are working to expand consumer choice.”

How it works

Amazon Wine will sell some 1000 wines at prices ranging from $5 to $200. For a $10 shipping fee, you can buy up to six bottles and have them delivered to your door.

Amazon.com

Amazon controls the storefront, but sales will be processed through and shipped from the individual wineries, taking pressure off the e-retail giant. According to CNN, wineries pay $40 a month to be included in the Amazon Wine store and get a 15 percent cut of each sale.

Not to be outdone, leading wine e-retailer Wine.com Monday rolled out its own Marketplace specializing in smaller wineries that are not covered by traditional distribution channels. Wine.com launched its Marketplace softly earlier this year.

Wine.com says it ships more than 2.5 million bottles a year. Its new Marketplace will ship to 20 states.

According to trade publication Wines & Vines, wine aficionados are clamoring to purchase directly from their preferred wineries. Direct-to-consumer shipments in September were up 36 percent over last year. The publication predicts shipments to continue soaring.

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