Investing in Naked Wines

I just placed my first order with Naked Wines, a non-club wine club. It’s an ingenious method of funding upstart winemakers while providing wine to consumers at a discount. I’ll update Imagelater after I try the wines, but here’s how it works.

Members (“Angels”) commit a certain dollar amount to their account each month. I signed up for $40 per month. This isn’t a subscription or fee to join, it’s just my monthly contribution to the pot. The Naked Wines folks collect all the Angels’ money and use it to invest in new winemakers. Then the resulting wine is available to members at a discount (and non-members, at a lesser discount) using the money already paid. So for my $40 per month, I can order wine whenever I want, spending the money I’ve already contributed.

Per the website: “When you spend $50 on a bottle of Napa Cab, only $7 of that is wine. The rest is sales, marketing and hot air — stuff you can’t taste. Our winemakers would much rather give that money to you directly, as a reward for helping them.”

I had $80 in my account, and my shopping basket started with a bonus bottle from a new winemaker as a “thank you” (or a gimmick to entice me to order.. I don’t really care what the gesture meant, I just know it’s a free bottle of wine!). I selected 11 more bottles at varying prices (none over $10.99, all about half off the retail price), and with shipping, I overshot my $80 balance by about $20. But I now have a full case of wine on its way! By the way, shipping is free when your order is over $100.

The wines come from all over the world – my case includes wines from Argentina, Australia, California (Napa, Sonoma, and Sierra Foothills), and other miscellaneous locales.

And being the social-media geek that I am, I love the website’s social elements. Members can rate the wines, share their thoughts on them, follow other members to read their reviews, and of course share their thoughts on Facebook. (Check Naked Wines out on Facebook here.)

So what say you, readers? Are you the wine club type? What do you think about the idea of investing in upstart winemakers that may be terrible or may be the next Mondavi? I’d love to hear your thoughts!