Posted: Jan 02, 2018
Amazon.com's purchase of Austin-based Whole Foods Market is showing up in the wine category. As this year ends, Amazon has shut down Wine.Woot and its own wine marketplace in favor of Whole Foods' expansive wine operation.
Now that Amazon owns Whole Foods, a licensed seller of wine, it comes under different state laws and can't sell directly from a producer.
As a result, Dallas entrepreneur Matt Rutledge sees an opening in the marketplace.
When Amazon.com purchased daily deals site Woot.com, based in Carrollton, in 2010 it also acquired Wine.Woot, a direct producer-to-consumer website that Amazon adopted for its own wine marketplace.
Now, Woot founder Rutledge and Wine Country Connect president David Studdert, who co-founded Wine.Woot with Rutledge in 2006, have started a new business called Casemates.
Rutledge said on his blog that Casemates "will need a strong and vibrant community to succeed." He launched a Kickstarter campaign to gauge consumer interest. Casemates.com went live Thursday when the Kickstarter campaign started. It has two weeks to go and already exceeded its $50,000 goal in the first day. At 7:30 a.m. Friday, it had 1,081 backers pledging $70,732.
Rutledge, who is also co-founder and CEO of a Dallas-based tech incubator called Mediocre Corporation, said Wine.Woot pioneered the winery-direct retail model.
"We created this method - we're not even a store, the wine you're buying is sold by the producing winery," Rutledge said on his Kickstarter blog post. "So no one's better positioned than we are to step in and rescue it from extinction like John Hammond with the velociraptors." (Oh yes, expect to be entertained. Rutledge is also a pioneer of fun prose in online retailing, creating not only Woot.com customers, but also fans.)
Casemates plans to offer new wine deals three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The site expects to start selling wine sometime in January, Rutledge said in an interview. Casemates also plans to build tools to let customers share by-the-case orders with others nearby to lower the price.
Casemates is a joint venture with Studdert's Sonoma-based Wine Country Connect. It's operating out of Mediocre's Carrollton office. Two other businesses under the Mediocre umbrella are meh.com and morningsave.com.
Depending on each winery's registration status, up to 92 percent of the U.S. population can receive the winery direct shipments offered on Casemates, Rutledge said on Kickstarter.
By Maria Halkias
December 30, 2017
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