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Expert's Opinion : Accident Wines buys and sells the unsold and the discontinued

Par Vitisphere Le 14 janvier 2010
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Expert's Opinion : Accident Wines buys and sells the unsold and the discontinued
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ccidents happen, as the people at the Accidental Wine Company like to say. This California-based company basically offers to ship wines that can't be sold... Every time a delivery person, a vintner or wine distributor drops a case of wine and one bottle breaks, staining all the others, Accidental Wine can be contacted to rush in and buy up the remaining blemished but otherwise unbroken bottles that a retailer won't touch. Then it resells them over the Internet for a third to half off the price.

"We never know when an accident's going to happen," says Janice Lee, co-founder of the company, together with David Forbes, "We never know what quantity we're going to get." Therefore, consumers who buy through its website can't order specific brands of wine. But they can specify what kind of wine they want, or absolutely don't.

Forbes, former president of Orion pictures, met Lee when his company was a client of hers. Somehow, Lee noticed, whenever Forbes was playing host he always managed to pull out the perfect bottle of wine for the occasion. It turned out he had a friend who was a wine distributor who was passing along bottles he couldn't move because the labels were damaged... Over a meal, Forbes mentionned it, and the fact that his dealer was retiring. And the project started.
Forbes declines to reveal Accidental Wine's sales figures but says in its two years the company has grown rapidly.

"We just happened to get in at the right moment," he says. "Since the economy dropped, what we're seeing is that people are looking to drink wine at the same level they did before, but not pay the same price."

Everything from France's most famous Bordeaux wines, which can go for hundreds of dollars a bottle, to acclaimed vintages from California's Napa Valley, to more modestly priced but still enjoyable selections from places like Australia, New Zealand and Chile. To quote from David Forbes : "The expensive bottles break just as easily as the cheap ones."

And sometimes they don't even have to break :  David Forbes has the example of Los Angeles' venerable San Antonio Winery, deciding to bring out a new label called Windbreak, which failed to seduce the market and had to be changed to something more marketable. "It's an outstanding wine. It's 40-something dollars a bottle," says Forbes. Accidental packaged it with two other similarly priced vintages from other winemakers and sold all three for a total of $68, about half the price.

Then there was the Argentinian winemaker that produced 150 cases of a pinot noir before noticing someone had spelled it Pinor Noir on all the labels. Accidental Wine scooped up the bottles and resold them, with a note to consumers that it really was pinot noir in the bottle...
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