Amazon unveils wine marketplace in some U.S. states

SAN FRANCISCO Thu Nov 8, 2012 10:40pm IST

A box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado July 23, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A box from Amazon.com is pictured on the porch of a house in Golden, Colorado July 23, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) unveiled a new online wine marketplace on Thursday, in the company's second attempt to crack a sector curtailed by a tangle of complex regulations.

Amazon Wine launched more than 1,000 wines from wineries in the United States, including Francis Ford Coppola, Hall, Mark Ryan, Eden Canyon, Pepper Bridge and Roadhouse.

The world's largest Internet retailer said customers could order up to six bottles for a shipping fee of $9.99.

The service will be available to California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.

Amazon said more states will be added "soon."

Indeed, the limited number of states highlights the challenges of online wine sales due to regulations governing the sale and delivery of alcohol across U.S. state borders.

Amazon had tried getting into the online wine business a few years ago, but put the effort on hold.

Wine.com launched its own online wine marketplace earlier this week, ahead of Amazon's move, which had been reported recently.

Wine.com, which has been in the online wine business for 14 years, launched its marketplace with shipping to 20 states and also offered wines from countries outside the United States, including France, Italy, Spain and Australia.

"Amazon has not offered us anything at this stage," said Jean-Charles Boisset, president of Boisset Family Estates. "We have contacted them and would love to talk."

Boisset has wineries in the United States, including De Loach and Buena Vista, and also imports a lot of wine from its wineries in France and Italy.

Boisset is working with Wine.com on its new marketplace.

A marketplace approach is better than the traditional wholesale distribution system because it allows smaller wineries to reach consumers more directly.

Boisset has sold its wines through Wine.com for years. The new marketplace will help the company offer more unique wines that were previously only available from tasting rooms at its wineries, Boisset said.

(Reporting by Alistair Barr; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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