Rockstar Winemakers & Angel Investors
Greg Banbury, Vice President of Growth for Nakedwines.com proclaimed, “We like to get out of the way.” His statement summarizes the company’s philosophy of removing the middlemen and bringing winemakers and customers together. Nakedwines.com is an online retailer revolutionizing winemaking and wine selling. Customers, called Angels, prepay a monthly amount towards future wine order to help support talented independent winemakers directly. In return, those winemakers produce world-class wines at a significantly reduced rate to their Angels.
The company started its operations in the UK in 2008 and came to Napa Valley in 2012. The US has traditionally lagged the UK in the wine delivery space. But the NakedWines.com model has never made more sense than it does today. When the COVID-19 pandemic required social isolation, many wineries had to shutter their primary source of income: tasting rooms. If a company’s business model relied heavily on that source of income, times got tough. If, however, a large percent- age of revenue came from online sales, like Nakedwines.com, shipments were flying out the door, as people sheltered in place and realized it might be an excellent time to stock up on wine.
The model wouldn’t work as well if the company hadn’t been able to snag some top- notch winemaking talent, like Matt Parish, Ken Deis, Camille Benitah, and Scott Peterson. Parish was formerly Head Winemaker for Treasury (Beringer, Stag’s Leap, and Chateau Ste. Jean.) He’s made wine on three continents, produced 25 vintages in Napa Valley, and was named Nakedwines.com’s Winemaker of the Year in 2017.
Ken Deis is another rockstar wine- maker with Nakedwines.com, and he’s known as one of the founding fathers of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. He’s making his fortieth vintage in the Valley, having worked for heavy hitters like Joseph Phelps, Flora Springs, and Heitz Cellars. His wines have garnered a ridiculous number of 90+ point scores from Robert Parker Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and Wine Spectator – over 50 of them.
French winemaker Camille Benitah creates refined and elegant wines and spent years crafting $150+ cult wines at Merus Wines in Napa Valley. Formally trained in Bordeaux, she crafts Bordeaux-style blends, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc from Napa Valley, Paso Robles, and Lake County, California. Winemaker Scott Peterson helped define the signature style of California Chardonnay as part of the wine-making team at Kendall-Jackson (Jackson Family Wines) in the 1990s.
The Angels get access to these celebrity winemaker’s creations and get to sample new, exciting, and different varieties of wine. They also gain an emotional, personal connection to the winemakers that comes from being part of a community supporting and funding them. They can ride along on a newbie winemaker’s journey from ‘zero to hero’ or watch a veteran winemaker unleash personal masterpieces once given full rein to craft wines their way.
It’s all part of the exchange at the core of Nakedwines.com. Or, as Banbury explained more succinctly, “Hey wine drinker, you commit, we’ll source brilliant wine.”
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Article By: Layne Randolph