Nakedwines.com, the largest online wine business in the US has announced it will launch a $5 million fund to support independent winemakers who have been hit by the coronavirus disruptions.
“One of the unfortunate fallouts of the current pandemic is that small winemakers reliant on traditional channels are going to suffer,” said Nick Devlin, group CEO of Nakedwines.com, in a statement.
The fund will be used to buy wines that would have been sold to restaurants, tasting rooms, and retail stores before the pandemic. Open to wine producers worldwide, the wines will be sold in the US, UK, and Australian markets, with a chance that some of the wines could receive a permanent listing on Nakedwines.com.
“Given our unique platform and passionate customer base, it feels right to launch this initiative to help the industry;” said Eamon FitzGerald, global wine director for Nakedwines.com, in a statement.
Naked Wines has always been controversial, not least because the company has made claims – “We squeeze less juice from the grape so that we get all the fruit and less of the bitter dregs that make cheap wine taste cheap” – that appall many in the wine trade.
So perhaps it was not surprising that not everybody sees Naked Wine’s new venture as being completely altruistic.
“Predation/lead gen disguised as aid and wrapped in a nice PR package,” wrote Paul Mabray, CEO of Emetry, on Twitter. “If Naked wanted to be more transparent they should just say, ‘We are open to buying wine at a heavy discount from wineries in trouble and we have $5 million to spend’.”
Regardless of motive, many wineries might appreciate the sales right now.
Wine estates and producers who are independently owned, can show their business has been impacted by the coronavirus, and have cleared any exclusivity arrangements with their current importers or agents can qualify.
Nakedwines.com is a direct-to-consumer business that currently lists over 1,000 wines on its website, with over 500,000 active customers in the US, UK, and Australia. It was founded in the UK in 2008, by Rowan Gormley.
Winemakers can find more information and apply for support from the fund at www.nakedwines.com/covidsupport