NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Jun 25, 2012) - While small- and mid-sized winemakers were responsible for much of the growth of the $32-billion wine industry over the past year*, their wines can be difficult to come by. Enter Velvet Palate, a new private, wine-sale website launched in May that is catering to this booming niche by offering handcrafted wines via time-based sales online.
"Some of the winemakers we work with only produce a couple of hundred or a thousand cases a year," said Kim Kooren, co-founder of Velvet Palate. "Such small quantities are difficult to bring to market. That's where we come in." Velvet Palate seeks out winemakers who are passionate about the wines they craft, and makes them available to consumers. "While occasionally we have wines from larger runs," noted Kooren, "most of our wines are hand-harvested-and-sorted and rarely found in retail stores."
All Velvet Palate wines are sold at discounted prices, 40-65% off retail, in sale events that run every four to six days. A recent sale featured a red from the artisanal winery Altanza in La Rioja, Spain, where it is harvested from 75+-year-old vines and aged for 18 months in Allier French oak casks. With a Robert Parker rating of 93 points, an International Wine Cellar rating of 92 points and carrying the distinction of Zarcillo Gold Medal points, it sold on VelvetPalate.com for $26 (retail $73.99).
Velvet Palate, based in New York City, is also tapping into what many predict will be exponential growth in online wine sales, which last year accounted for only 1% of all Internet sales. "This prediction, coupled with the explosion in the number of artisanal wineries, means there is enormous potential," said Kooren. The number of wineries in Oregon grew from 78 in 1992 to 419 in 2010.
While Velvet Palate is a members-only website, membership is free. New members are prompted to answer questions about their wine preferences and level of knowledge so Velvet Palate can share wine offers, recipes for food pairings and other information tailored to each member. Members also have access to Velvet Palate's unique Virtual Sommelier, who answers wine questions within 24 hours.
Velvet Palate also educates consumers about the wines in its curated sales with profiles on winemakers and vineyards. Understanding that the stories behind the wines are a special part of the artisanal wine-buying experience, Velvet Palate will be adding custom bottleneck gift cards and making tasting notes, descriptions and information available to download from the website. Purchasers can include these with gifts and place them on tables as a conversation piece when pouring the wines.
In choosing wines, Velvet Palate uses over 120 descriptors to specify key qualities of the wine, food pairing suggestions and serving suggestions. The descriptors vary from texture and flavor of the wine to the occasion or dress code when serving the wine. The tasting team visits the wineries and samples all wines at the source, and then again after they arrive in New York as tasting perception and experience can change under different conditions. The wines they carry express the characteristics of the soil in which they are grown in countries around the world including Spain, France, Italy, Argentina, Austria, Chile, Germany, Portugal, South Africa, the U.S. and more.
For more information and to sign up for a free membership visit www.velvetpalate.com. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Velvetpalate and Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/velvetpalate
About Velvet Palate
Velvet Palate was founded in September 2011 by four friends who are passionate about artisanal wine. Their core values of wine are high quality, typicity, uniqueness, balance and elegance. After countless trips in search of these wonderful wines, they discovered that many of the artisanal offerings are only available regionally and hardly make it to U.S. wine shops. Velvet Palate, a members-only destination for wine lovers, was born as a way to bring these hard-to-find wines to consumers.
*Source: Wine flash-deal business is maturing, MarketWatch