Through Kickstarter and Indiegogo, people are finding projects, new products and films to fund via crowdsourcing. Now, reports KGO-TV in San Francisco, fledgling winemakers can take advantage of crowdsourced funding through NakedWines.com. "Now, the Bay Area's seeing the rise of indie winemakers. Like so many other entrepreneurs, they're turning to crowdfunding to get off the ground."
No fancy bottles. Screw caps instead of corks. Labels? Meh.
"We put the money inside the bottle," says Rowan Gormley, founder of NakedWines.com, which also has a British and an Australian site. The company basically funds independent winemakers to make exclusive wines for their customers. NakedWines buys the grapes. The winemaker makes the wine. And NakedWines sells the wine through its site to its 175,000 customers.
Angel investors invest $40 per month in a NakedWines account in support of winemakers. That $40 can be spent on any wines on the site, anytime—but the big advantage is that while anyone can buy wine from NakedWines, Angels can purchase the wines at wholesale. That means a Chardonnay that sells for $19.99 costs an Angel just $11.99. Minimum order, six bottles. For an order more than $100, shipping is free (otherwise $9.99).
Of course, since the site is highly social, customers rate the winemakers and in general wax poetic (or not) about wines they've purchased and consumed.
Some of the highest rated winemakers right now? Robin Langton, "UK drug squad cop turned award-winning California winemaker," who's worked at Patz & Hall Wine Co. and Calera Wine Co., among others, and is making a Lodi Chardonnay and a Zinfandel from Sonoma Valley. There's Matt Iaconis, too, "rocket-scientist turned winemaker," who is offering a California Moscato and a Napa Valley Chardonnay.
And lo and behold, Bonny Doon's Randall Grahm, "the iconic Rhone Ranger," shows up on NakedWines with 701 followers. Yes, just like on Instagram or Twitter or any number of social media sites, you can "follow" winemakers that interest you. Not often, though, you can follow someone like Graham who has had an asteroid named after him.
It can get pretty up close and personal with comments. (Yes, there are comments, too, from members. "Terrible!" Re Graham's 2012 "The(G)renache Spot Central Coast," 77% of 75 purchasers would buy it again. Ouch. Comments include "Not bad. Just prefer Cabs." And "My husband, who 'despises' reds liked this quite a bit! Or "All my heavy duty wine friends liked it."
Instead of funding that sous vide cooker or a meat thermometer that hooks up to your iPhone, why not have the fun of funding an independent winemaker's dream. For more information, visit NakedWines.com or call (800) 673-4718.