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Winestyr Is Latest Daily-Deal Wine Site, Adding To Social Media’s Role In Wine Sales

January 23, 2012

With the recent debut of Winestyr, the latest daily deal Internet merchant, the wine business is increasingly coming to grips with social media as a marketing and selling tool.

Chicago-based Winestyr went live January 13, offering $240 worth of wine from Greg Linn Wines in the Santa Rita Hills of California’s Central Coast for $180. Winestyr is the brainchild of Robert Wilson, 28, a former manager at Chicago-based Wirtz Beverage, who quit his job there a few years ago to start his new company. The initial focus is on wines from California, Oregon and Washington.

Like Groupon, Winestyr will offer its followers a different deal each day, with prices discounted by 20% or more. Shipping is arranged directly from wineries to customers, bypassing distributors. Winestyr acts strictly as a middleman and carries no inventory. Groupon typically shares sales proceeds on a 50-50 basis with merchants. Winestyr execs say they’ll take less than that but decline to offer specifics.

The social media realm for wine sales is becoming increasingly crowded. New York-based Lot18 and Carrollton, Texas-based Wine.woot are seeing their traffic grow. Lot18 and Wine.woot often deviate from the Groupon model by offering discounted prices on single labels, in a manner more akin to a conventional sale. Winestyr, meanwhile, is striking deals with wineries to offer discount coupons on an entire range of products, to be redeemed within a three- or four-month period.

For now, Winestyr will focus on small, lesser-known wineries. “I didn’t see any real downside for us in signing on with Winestyr,” says Greg Linn, owner of Greg Linn Wines, whose annual production is less than 1,500 cases. “We’re known by some people in California and have some distribution in three or four other states, but we’re an upstart. We were founded just five years ago, and we’d love to reach a wider audience. Marketing has been our biggest challenge.”

Linn says that even after calculating the discount and commission paid to Winestyr, “I’m making margins that are equal to or better than those I have to accept in the traditional three-tier system, where wholesalers and retailers both take their share.” Most of the Greg Linn wines, which encompass nine labels dominated by Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, are priced between $60 and $90. “With social media, I hope to pique people’s interest, get them to try a few bottles, add them to my mailing list and hope I can get them to come back year after year,” Linn adds.

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