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Originally published Friday, September 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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A novel approach: Amazon reportedly to add wine

Want a California Cabernet to go with your new read? Soon you might be able to get it at The Seattle-based company, which started...

Seattle Times business reporter

Want a California Cabernet to go with your new read?

Soon you might be able to get it at

The Seattle-based company, which started as an online book vendor and now sells everything from sewing machines to diamond jewelry, plans to add wines from throughout the country this fall, wine-industry insiders say.

Amazon has approached the Washington Wine Commission to help tell 550-plus wineries about selling through the retail giant, said Ryan Pennington, a spokesman for the state agency.

"With their reach, it's a great opportunity for us," Pennington said.

Meanwhile, a trade group of 315 California wineries is holding workshops so that an Amazon representative can explain the new venture, said Terry Hall, a spokesman for the nonprofit Napa Valley Vintners.

Amazon declined to comment.

The online retailer might begin selling wine this month or next and would involve 26 states, including Washington, Hall said.

The company would work with New Vine Logistics, based in Napa, Calif., to help navigate complex legal issues because wine-shipment laws vary from state to state.

New Vine promotes what it calls "proprietary fulfillment systems" that enable wine shipments to consumers in 45 states.

U.S. wine sales totaled between $30 billion and $32 billion last year, said Barbara Insel, president of Stonebridge Research Group in Napa, Calif. About $2.8 billion was sold directly from wineries to consumers through wine clubs, tasting rooms, mailing lists and the Internet.

"Someone who's really into wine will consume nine to 11 brands a year," Insel said. "If they're going to buy online, it's because they can get a variety of brands. The advantage for wineries is that they get exposure to a huge market. Everybody and their mother goes on Amazon."

Amy Martinez: 206-464-2923 or

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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