Brilliantly adding “drunk-shopping” to the business model, Amazon is developing its own wines

Online wine.
Online wine.
Image: Reuters/Vincent West
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Update (10am ET): Citing a misleading sentence in a statement by King Estate Winery, Amazon says it is not developing NEXT brand wine. NEXT is the first brand to be developed from conception (by the winemaker) and released on Amazon Wine.

Amazon is buzzed on the idea of getting you tipsy.

The online retailer giant has partnered with King Estate Winery in western Oregon to develop—from conception to release—a new wine label called Next, alluding to the “next generation” of selling wine. The line will feature grapes grown in regions across the Pacific Northwest, not too far from Amazon’s own headquarters in Seattle, Washington. Bottles will cost between $20-40 each and will feature pinot gris, pinot noir, and a blend of grapes, according to Recode.

What this means for the wine market, including giant wine and spirits companies such as Constellation Brands, remains unclear. For Amazon, it’s another way to engage in the world of food. In June, the company announced it was acquiring Whole Foods for $13.7 billion—a move that rattled an already highly competitive US grocery market.

And Americans have proven thirsty for wine.

Amazon could begin stocking King Estate Winery bottles in all existing Whole Foods stores—but that differs state by state. In Massachusetts, for example, you can sell anything in supermarkets; in New York, you can’t sell wine but can sell beer; and in Kentucky, you can sell wine but not liquor. But even just prominently displaying them on its Amazon Wine website (as it currently does) will garner huge attention for the brand.

“As the Kings see it, the new venture is a return to an earlier time when the connection between winemaker and customer was direct,” reads a statement by Kings Estate Winery, which was founded in 1991. That sense of nostalgia might be a bit of a stretch in this situation, but it is true that millions of potential customers stand to be introduced to a brand they otherwise might never have heard about.