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10.23.2009

Did You Hear That Sound? Wine Retailers Sigh in Relief

Wine retailers all across the country, and especially online today breathed a big sigh of relief. Probably more than a few of them are popping corks in celebration.

Why? The Wall Street Journal reported today that Amazon.Com officially announced that it has canceled plans to sell wine online.

The announcement more than a year ago that the online retail giant was moving into the wine business sent small shock waves through the wine retail industry both good and bad. Online retailers nervously fingered their Ethernet cables, and wineries optimistically looked forward to another channel to help them deal with a dysfunctional distribution system.

The plans were grand, and for a while it seemed Amazon was going to do things right. They even reached out to little old me (and a lot of other content providers, presumably) and began discussions about what kind of relationship, if any, might be mutually beneficial.

But apparently there were many a slip twixt the cup and the lip on this one. After aggressively announcing the program, not much seemed to happen. For a long time. And then, the fulfillment partner that Amazon selected turned belly up almost overnight. While I can't believe that it was the primary reason, the implosion of New Vine Logistics may have been the final straw that turned the grand plans into the failed experiment that was announced today.

And yes, this may suggest that the hard times for the U.S wine industry are far from over.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.