Amazon launches its own branded wine range in US
Not content with dominating the world book and electronics market – and pretty much everything else in between – online retail behemoth Amazon has just muscled its way into a new arena – producing and selling its own brand of wine.
The company has teamed up with Oregon’s largest winery King Estate Winery, to develop a line of three wines under their new brand, “Next”: a Pinot Gris, a red blend, and a Pinot Noir. It’s calling it “the first wine ever developed from conception to release with Amazon Wine”, the company’s alcohol brand launched in November 2012.
Unusually for Amazon, this new brand isn’t aimed at undercutting its rivals with bargain-basement prices, as with its Amazon Basics line. Instead, the wines are priced firmly into the mid-to-high-end market, at $20 (£15.44) for the Pinot Gris, $30 (£23.17) for the red blend and $40 (£30.90) for the Pinot Noir.
For the winery, it’s trying to claim the new deal “is a return to an earlier time when the connection between wine-maker and customer was direct”. Ed King III, who founded the vineyard with his father in 1991, said: “When people lived in the same village, the wines and cuisine developed together. Today that direct link is at risk of being lost. We’re launching Next on Amazon to re-establish the connection between winemaker and wine lover in today’s ‘digital village’.”
Calling the largest e-commerce site in the world a village, digital or not, might be stretching it somewhat, but the wines will also be available for sale on the Kings’ Estate website, which for consumers outside the US is the only way of getting their hands on the wine – though the vineyard isn’t matching Amazon’s offer of 1¢ shipping for customers who buy three or more bottles.
Amazon Wine’s Nick Loeffler who owns the Sonrisa Vineyard in the Rattlesnake Hills region of eastern Washington added: “We’re thrilled to connect wineries, like King Estate, with millions of customers and give them an innovative format to launch new brands.”
Amazon already sells other producers’ wines, but selling its own brand is a new venture and marks another disruption to the industry.
The development comes after Amazon bought upmarket grocer Whole Foods for £10.7bn as it attempts to go head to head with British supermarkets.
Shoppers are sent a resealable box to return the items if they are not right, with no money debited from their credit card.