I love wine. And you know what I love even more than wine? Having delicious, discounted wine delivered right to my door.
A few months ago, I was a bit sad that I’d no longer be able to order wine from Lot18 as I prepared for my move to London. After telling this to Lot18′s founder and CEO Philip James, he smiled and assured me in his charming Brit accent that I could have my wine and London too.
Lot18, a New York City born company, is oft referred to as “the Gilt Group of the wine industry.” The beautifully executed site offers up epicurean delights from wine to fancy cheese and chocolates- all at a flash sales style discount- delivered to your door. In late last year, Lot18 raised $30 million in Series C financing led by Accel Partners. At the time, Lot18 had said the funds would be used to support its continued growth. One month later, it acquired Paris-based Vinobest, marking the company’s first expansion into Europe.
Starting tomorrow, the 2nd of March, Lot18 officially launches in the UK with aims to revolutionise the way Brits buy wine. As Lot18′s co-founder Kevin Fortuna explains, “Many of Lot18’s registered members live in the UK and have been asking us to serve them – now we’ll be able to do it better than even they anticipated.”
Wines from Sonoma and Napa Valley will be available within the first few weeks of launching, as well as some unique and exciting Burgundies and Bordeaux. Lot18′s Editorial Director Eric Arnold tells me one of the Californian wines is a real cracker; look out for the Inglenook Rubicon Estate Blancaneaux Napa Valley 2009. “The idea is to provide wines that are a little harder to find than the everyday selections. The big idea is to leverage our contacts from around the world — especially in California and Oregon — to bring new wines to the UK,” explains Arnold.
Unlike the U.S., which has headache inducing shipping laws that differ state-by-state, the UK (and Europe in general) is much more consumer-friendly in this respect. Arnold tells me that Lot18 was able to get its UK arm up and running fairly quickly — in a matter of just a few months.
According to Arnold, the UK market is very competitive, but also very large and segmented. “We’re not competing with the supermarkets, or with the very top end of the market. It’s about finding the sweet spot of providing not the cheapest or the most expensive wines, but the ones that over-deliver and taste as if they’re worth twice the amount they actually cost,” he says.
“Keep in mind, 85% of wine in the UK is sold in supermarkets, at very low prices — that’s driven some small, specialty stores out of business, and made it difficult for small wineries and quality-conscious consumers to connect. We believe Lot18 can solve that problem, and help wine connoisseurs in England find the artisan wines they’re craving.”
Loved this? Read: Your Guide to Buying Wine Online
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