MadWine.com, the Seattle online wine shop, has rolled out its new website just days after Amazon.com bailed out on the whole concept of selling wine on the Internet.
MadWine (no relation to MadPizza) was taken over earlier this year by TMSA Holdings, a family enterprise that got into the wine biz by puyrchasing SODO's Esquin Wine Cellars back in 1997. Chuck LeFevre, who heads the company, installed his daughter Alisha Gosline (at the left in the family photo, taken by Jeff Hobson at Esquin), to manage the retail wine shop. Another daughter, Stephanie Burkhart, will run now the online business.
Esquin has grown tenfold since LeFevre took over; it claims a customer base of 22,000 today. TMSA is hoping for similar growth in its online business. It's also hoping to offer more Washington wines than any other retailer. They're already at 73 web pages and counting.
Amazon said it was discouraged by the regulatory and logistical hurdles of selling wine online and distributing it in the real world. MadWine doesn't seem to have the same qualms, although (for the time being) it's only shipping, via FedEx, to the two dozen or so "reciprocal states" that permit delivery of wine shipped from outside their borders. No such issues for local delivery, on the other hand.
Right now the hitches and glitches are all technical: the site works properly with Internet Explorer but not Firefox, for example. And a search for red Burgundies gets you white Burgundies. And the larger categories alphabetize wines by specific price point, so you can't easily compare $8 and $12 bottles. One assumes this, too, shall pass.
After all, Wines Till Sold Out, wtso.com, has been around for a while, selling off "lots" of wines every day, all day. More about it here.