In 2023, do more of your wine shopping at local stores. – San Francisco Chronicle

January 5, 2023 by No Comments

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you’re staying dry during this “bomb cyclone”!

Many of you may have made virtuous pledges as you embark on this year — to exercise more, to save more money, to be better about composting. No doubt, drinking less alcohol is a popular (and worthy!) resolution, especially this month. Estimates vary, but according to consumer-behavior analyst Veylinx, about 46% of Americans are attempting to reduce their alcohol consumption right now.

For those of you who plan to continue drinking wine, I propose a different New Year’s resolution for 2023: Spend more of your budget at small businesses, especially at independent wine shops, wineries and restaurants.

This isn’t simply an act of charity — though January and February are historically the slowest months for restaurants, so it’s a nice idea to go out to eat a little bit more during this time. Patronizing independent wine businesses is also prudent, because 2022 taught us all about the problems of larger-scale, personalized online wine businesses and subscription services.

Last year, Naked Wines, long considered a behemoth in the direct-to-consumer tech space, settled a lawsuit alleging that it had broken a law related to how it communicated its subscription policies. Essentially, the lawsuit alleged that Naked Wines made it excessively difficult for customers to cancel their memberships. That’s very bad business.

Another high-profile online wine club, SommSelect, filed for bankruptcy after a lengthy legal battle with one of its co-founders, as I reported in December. Both SommSelect and Naked Wines are still in business, selling wine, but to me, their recent troubles suggest that selling wine to large groups of people online may not be such an obviously successful model.

Pix, which had promised it would be a game changer for guiding people toward finding specific bottles of wine to purchase online, laid off almost its entire staff last summer. During the fallout, it surfaced that Pix’s search mechanism — its flagship product — had never worked very well. The startup’s future remains unclear.

Finally, there was the spectacular demise of Winc. Only a few years ago, Winc seemed poised to dominate the American wine-retail landscape — for better or, in my view, for worse — with its model of slapping cute packaging on private-label bottlings, and marketing them to customers who had filled out Cosmo-style quizzes to assess their wine palates. (How do you take your coffee? Do you prefer milk chocolate or dark chocolate?)

From the outside, it looked …….



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