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Cellar door experience provides creative juice for Sydney wine startup

Thursday, 8 May 2014 | By Kye White

A Sydney startup is trying to make it easier for wine lovers to buy their favourite drop straight from the cellar door.


Winecloud.com.au launched in late March and provides consumers with an online marketplace where vineyards sell directly to their customers.


Winemakers can sign up to the service for no cost and have full control of pricing, while Winecloud.com.au takes a small commission on each sale.


Co-founder and director Lynton Manuel grew up in South Australia, but now lives in Sydney, and came up with the idea after trying to track down some of his favourite wines from his home state.


“I love that cellar door experience, chatting to winemakers, buying wine that you just can’t get when you get back here,’’ he says of his many trips to wineries in South Australia’s Barossa Valley.


“You go to your local liquor store, there’s obviously good wine there, but it’s often difficult to find the one that you had (at the cellar door) a few weeks ago.


“So I guess the idea just stemmed from that experience, I wanted to be able to get wines from small producers a lot easier.”


Of course part of the appeal of buying a bottle of wine from a vineyard is learning about wine and finding new wines to try, and the Winecloud.com.au team are more than aware of that.


Manuel admits you can’t replace visiting vineyards but says Winecloud.com.au is hoping to provide a service not too dissimilar.


They’re trying to bridge the gap between the cellar door and the online marketplace by giving consumers the chance to chat to wine makers on the site.


“You are never going to have that same cellar experience, but we want it to be close,’’ he says.


“We want people to be able to ask winemakers questions about the wine, and be able to chat to them.”


Manuel says the reaction from the industry since launch has been promising.


“The winemakers don’t get as much money for their wines as they probably should when they do through distributors and retail,’’ he says.


“This gives them an option to go direct but not have to go through the marketing.”


David Franz Wine’s David Lehmann says it’s a great idea.


“I want my wine in as many channels as possible and as a small Vigneron and Winemaker the route to the market can be a bumpy and at times expensive road,’’ he says.


“While I’ll always support the traditional independent retail stores as much as I can, WineCloud introduces my babies to a completely new audience I probably would not otherwise reach.”