Check out Wine Country Connect in the News:

- - Sonoma, "'Fun' way to buy wine online"

- The New York Times, "Flash Sales Offer Deep Discounts on Wine"

- Wine & Spirits Daily, "The Man Behind Wine Woot"

We recently spoke with one of the men behind, David Studdert, co-founder of Wine Country Connect. Along with his brother, George, David started Wine Country Connect in 2005 after striking a relationship with As you might know, is the popular website that sells one item per day until it's sold out or until 11:59 p.m. central time. It has several offshoot websites, including Wine.Woot, which was the first.
Wine Country Connect is the link between the winery and the website, and essentially vets all the deals that are offered on Wine.Woot. It also began working with in 2009, which operates under a similar concept as Woot. Here's how it all started:

HOW IT BEGAN: "I've been in the wine logistics game for a long time," David told us. He started out with a direct-to-consumer wine-shipping program at Airborne Express. But that essentially ended in 1998 when the states' attorneys generals contacted Airborne, Fedex and UPS, and said the companies were not shipping wine the correct way. Afterwards, David started a company that helped wineries legally ship to consumers in non-reciprocal states. However, the Granholm v. Heald ruling in 2005 made that model all but extinct. "I think I was the only one that didn't want [Granholm] to happen," David said, laughing, "because it made the model we created go the way of the dodo bird in most states." But a week before the Granholm ruling, David had read an article about in the Wall Street Journal. "I fell in love with it...they were still new but growing fast and I really became a devoted follower." David's brother George started talked about selling wine on "almost half jokingly," and "then the bells and whistles went off in my head almost immediately." "My brother was fascinated by the marketing, but I'm a logistical guy and was intrigued by the logistical efficiency of shipping one thing a day," he said. That's because "wine is a complicated, expensive, hard thing to ship....and the absence of multiple permutations is what really intrigued me about Woot." That day David sent an email to the head of Woot, Matt Rutledge. "The next day Matt emailed me back and we started talking." Wine.Woot was launched May 2006 and went live in October of 2006.

HOW WINE.WOOT WORKS: Each weekday Wine.Woot offers a different wine deal, where variation is key. "We develop a lot of deals and essentially have them in a pool," said David. Ultimately they select the deal based on "the rhythm of the offer." For example, "we won't do two Sangioveses in a row....we dole them out in a way that gives variety by varietal, region and price point... We really look at those three components when we decide when to slot offers." "I have enough offers to slot for the rest of the year" but he will "place the best deal at the right time...some wineries are stuck for a long time because it's not the right item." If it takes long enough, the "deal can end up evaporating," which is why "we'll usually jump on a deal" as quickly as possible. "We understand that these deals won't be around forever, so we have to jump on the ones we find valuable." "With Woot, it's about QPR (quality price ratio). It's got to be a good deal." For example, a winery might sell a bottle that typically goes for $100 at $70 on Wine.Woot. Or "it's a $25 bottle that the wineries agree to sell for $15...but it's got to be good wine. And if it isn't good wine, we'll say it isn't, or we won't do the deal." is "painfully honest" about the deals they feature. They have an "amazing reputation for candor and humor...and we try to translate that to Wine.Woot."

One of the components of the Woot site is the community forums, which David said "is truly a unique aspect of the sales experience." The site has a robust community that talks about the deal "and we invite the winemaker into the forums. So for the duration of the event the vintner is the guest speaker on the boards and interacts with buyers," making it a "very intimate experience." And many wine owners "have developed great relationships. This becomes a chance for the winery to communicate in real time with the audience answering questions, educating them about their winery and just sharing an intimate view on wine. In addition to selling wine, the forums are what the wineries tell us they enjoy the most about the experience."

FINDING THE DEALS: Woot is "very much" a viral phenomenon and "still not 100% in the public conscienceness." "Early on we were reaching out to wineries 100%," said David. "There was nobody calling us at all.... So we are very appreciative of those early adopters." But with the success of the site and the amount of wine that is being sold, word is getting out and "it is starting to turn now where we are getting more inquiries coming to us."

SHIPPING THE WINE: "Shipping occurs locally within the wine country," said David. "The winery or the website is the advertising portal to the winery," which David considers "a positive logistical aspect of this program. We work with one winery at a time for a finite amount of time. The winery is the seller and it's their job to ship it." But Wine Country Connect typically does the shipping. They have a Type 14 License, or a specific fulfillment house license, "that allows our warehouse to get the wine and ship on behalf of the winery."

WORKING WITH RUE LA LA: Wine Country Connect also works with, which launched in April of 2008. It operates under the same concept as Woot, but mainly offers deals on high-end merchandise, including linens, clothing and accessories. They contacted Wine Country Connect sometime around March 2009, and first launched in June 2009. Wine.Woot tends to offer wines at prices across the board, while Rue La La goes after more expensive, boutique wines. Also, Wine.Woot is an offshoot website of Woot, while Rue La La offers wine beside other boutique items.

So far, Rue La La is "going well," said David. "It's a little bit different in a sense because it's one of many boutiques on a particular day....that adds a lot texturally on the site I personally believe." And the "success of the other boutiques is very solid. Wineries that have been involved are in the ultra-premium category and the adjacency they have with the other Rue La La brands is very positive...the brand next to you really does matter and the ultra-premium brands that are associated are very strong. The Rue La La brand itself is extremely powerful." "We often feature ultra-premium wines on Woot but not all the time and it varies." But "Rue La La is a higher bar from a criteria standpoint," that tends to be ultra-premium and higher priced typically.

THE OUTCOME FOR WINERIES: After being featured on Wine.Woot or Rue La La, wineries typically get a lot of consumer interest. "It is absolutely a brand building experience," said David, and wineries' websites often "light up" as a result. "They get a lot of inquiries outside of Woot or Rue La La.... There are a lot of stories of post event sales that occur with the wineries." Also, "the site has a very robust community that talks about the deal...and we invite the winemaker into the forums. So for the duration of the event the vintner is the guest speaker on the boards and interacts with buyers," making it a "very intimate experience." And many wine owners "have developed great relationships."

AMAZON ENTERS THE PICTURE: Since Amazon struck a deal to acquire in June, David said it has been "pretty much business as usual, but a very positive thing." Before Amazon, Wine.Woot featured only three deals a weak and now they've moved to five deals a week. But "I can't say the Amazon deal was why. It seemed like a logical progression for us. People had gotten used to one deal a day and we ramped up to handle the change...." In all, "I'm proud of what our team is we're doing" with Wine.Woot and Rue La La, said David. "We've quietly developed a very efficiently run operation here and we're proud of it."

Sonoma Index -Tribune Sonoma News, "Wine Country Gains Amazon Connection"

Five years ago, David Studdert and his brother, George, gave birth to a new idea - a way to sell wine direct to consumers using the then upstart Woot, a one-day, one-deal e-commerce site best known for rock-bottom pricing on electronics popular with computer geeks. Last week the Studderts' baby became a fully-grown Amazon., "BREAKING: WOOT TO BE ACQUIRED BY AMAZON, THEN LEFT TO AMUSE OURSELVES"

Holy crap! Woot has signed an agreement with Amazon - yes, the Amazon - to become an independent subsidiary of the ecommerce colossus. Woot HQ will remain in Carrollton, Texas, and will operate as autonomously as other Amazon companies like Zappos and Audible.