Update: It turns out Amazon is not actually developing its own wine, as TechCrunch reported Thursday. Recode reporter Jason Del Rey noted how Amazon first pointed him to a press release from King Vintners, which noted its collaboration on developing wine with Amazon. But later, Amazon said the release was incorrect. GeekWire confirmed with Amazon that it is only acting as a retail sales platform for the wine.
Amazon is trying its hand at wine.
“The first of five brands to be launched by King Vintners is NEXT, making its debut June 28 on amazonwine.com,” noted King Estate Winery’s press release. “NEXT is the first wine ever developed from conception to release with Amazon Wine.”
“When people lived in the same village, the wines and cuisine developed together,” Ed King III, King Estate Winery co-founder, said in a statement. “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.'”
In 2009, Amazon was planning to sell wine but that venture fell through when its partner, New Vine Logistics, abruptly shut down. Another failed effort came years ago when Amazon invested $30 million in WineShopper and then saw the company go down less than a year later.
In 2012, after a series of unsuccessful attempts, Amazon opened up a wine marketplace, which offers bottles from wineries around the country. It also began delivering wine in some markets two years ago.
Selling its own wine is a big step up, and would put Amazon on par with other retailers like Trader Joe’s and Costco that do the same. Amazon also recently began expanding its own private labels of food and clothing.
It’s advantageous for Amazon to produce items itself or partially in-house, as control over marketing, development, and packaging typically results in higher margins for the retailer.
This is just the latest consumer vertical that Amazon is trying to disrupt. According to Wines & Vines, sales of U.S. wine increased to $3.1 billion in May 2017, up 3 percent from one year ago.
This is also noteworthy given Amazon’s planned $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods — perhaps we’ll soon see NEXT wine front-and-center at your local Whole Foods store.