Thursday, May 31, 2012

A first for "flash-deal" wine business

The past few years have seen an explosion of "flash-deal" websites like Living Social and Groupon. Every local newspaper and television station has one of their own now. These business models of course have found their way into the wine industry, too. These websites have a penchant for blasting emails to subscribers from several times a week to several times a day highlighting wines (often wines that the winery or distributor have a difficult time selling at full price) at discounts at up to 70% off the suggested retail price. I've bought by fair share of wines from the likes of Wines Til Sold Out, Invino and Lot 18, but a new platform launched in January that his piqued my interest.

Logo-header-smallWinestyr.com is a free platform for wine lovers to discover new wines curated by the Winestyr team. Through three weekly online offerings, subscribers can visit the site and learn about the featured wineries including tasting notes, bottle shots, and insider knowledge on the vineyards. Winestyr focuses on wineries as a whole and not just one-off bottles. Members purchase a discounted gift certificate (typically 30-40% off the featured winery’s entire portfolio - with no limitations) from Winestyr that they use on the actual winery’s website - furthering the experience with the winery. Featured wineries in the past have included Willamette Valley Vineyards and Naked Winery in Oregon and Schug Winery in Sonoma.

But what Winestyr is doing today is really fascinating. For the first time on any of these flash sites a Colorado winery is being featured. Winestyr (the founders are recent University of Colorado - Boulder graduates, by the way) has partnered with Palisade, Colorado-based Canyon Wind Cellars to present the winery to thousands of oenophiles around the country. Canyon Wind is the first Colorado winery to be featured on the Winestyr platform and the promotion (running from Thursday, May 31st to Sunday, June 3rd) is fittingly scheduled just before Colorado Wine Week.

While Canyon Wind is probably not going to make a whole lot of money on this promotion, this is a great marketing opportunity for Colorado Wine as a whole.These deals have two goals. First, moving inventory is key. Wineries operate a tight cash-flow system. The faster old product gets out the door, the easier it is to sell new product. Second, these deals provide exposure to new (and fingers crossed, repeat) customers. This is probably the key to Canyon Wind's participation.

Colorado does not have a lot of distribution, let alone consumer awareness, across the country. By showcasing a Colorado winery (and a good one at that!) to a broad audience, Winestyr is lifting the entire industry.

I can safely say that when people (and I hope it is a lot) by the Winstyr vouchers ($39 gets you $60 and $69 gets you $120 to spend online) they will be pleasantly surprised with what is in the bottle. By having a good experience with a Colorado wine these same people will be more likely to explore other Colorado wines. This is how the Colorado wine industry grows and gets better. So here's to Winstyr and Canyon Wind Cellars. Cheers!

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