Wine Spies Sells Over $400,000 in Wine per Month Online

By Bruce Harpham Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Wine Spies, founded in 2007, has built a growing business selling wine directly to consumers. Based in California, Wine Spies has achieved monthly revenue of over $400,000. With strength in California wines, the company has grown quickly using a combination of networking, email marketing, and online advertising.

The company was bootstrapped by the two founders without outside financing. “We built the first version of our platform for less than $25,000, and it was paid for in less than six months from the time that we launched The Wine Spies,” the company told Starter Story.

Jason Seeber, founder of the Wine Spies.

Convincing Wineries to Sell Online

The wine business has been slower to adopt online marketing for a few reasons. The business values tradition and established methods of production and distribution. In addition, there are legal restrictions on wine sales and distribution in the United States (US), Canada, and other countries. Despite these limits, Wine Spies have found a way to build trust over time.

“Gradually, we earned the trust of the wineries that we were served. We did that by being sensitive to their needs, and by always portraying their wines and their brands with sensitivity. Since we only featured wines that passed our personal vetting, all reviews were positive reviews,” Wine Spies explained in Starter Story.

How the Wine Spies Business Model Works

The direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine company takes a different approach from others in the online wine business. Rather than offering a large selection of wines that can be purchased at any time, the company features a single wine per day. “We feature one wine each day, so there are roughly 365 featured wines, and a handful of others we merchandise for the store,” Jason Seeber, founder of the business, told Startup Savant in an interview.

Evaluating 3,000 Wines per Year

Choosing wines to feature requires extensive testing and evaluation. Wine Spies tasted about 3,000 wines per year to come up with its selection. The selection process relies on significant in-house wine expertise. “Our wine buyer has been in the industry for decades now and is a WSET certified teacher who can tell you just about anything about any wine region,” Seeber told Startup Savant. WSET stands for Wine & Spirit Education Trust, a British organization dedicated to wine education

How the Business Stands Out With Pricing

The company also stands out from its competitors by offering lower prices. For example, the business recently offered a 2017 Sonoma Coast Estate Pinot Noir for $35 vs. an average price of $65. Furthermore, the company offers a discount code to website visitors to encourage them to join the company email list.

Testing More Than 1,000 Facebook Ads

The wine company has expanded into Facebook advertising with significant success. “For the first few months of 2021, we ran around 75 different ads. Our ROAS (return on advertising spend) for prospecting sits around 150%, but that's just the initial 30-day window. If we look at those cohorts over time, they jump way up, closer to 20x within a year,” Seeber told Startup Savant.

In addition to Facebook advertising, the company has also used marketing software like Unbounce to create custom landing pages. The company is also focused on testing many different advertising ideas. “We have a total of 1,143 total ads in the company Facebook advertising account,” Seebor added during the interview.

About the Author


Headshot of Bruce Harpham

Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book, "Project Managers At Work," shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.

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