Excellent news for wine drinkers- Winc, Inc. just went public. On Thursday, Winc (NYSE: WBEV) was officially listed to the NYSE at $13 per share. And while the expected turbulence of a first-day listing is underway, the near and long-term perspective on WBEV stock is decidedly bullish. And deservedly so.
For the past decade, Winc has done everything in its power to change the landscape of how wine clubs operate. From the start, they designed a better strategy focused on its clients instead of peddling leftover stock from wineries with a sticky new label and a fancy catchphrase. To say Winc is different is an understatement. They don’t follow any of the pre-established rules of what a wine club should be other than making sure its client gets a secure delivery right to their doorsteps.
And that’s where the similarities end.
Changing The Wine Club Landscape
Winc doesn’t resell wholesale wines with dusty jackets. Instead, they created a strategy that integrates technology with wine-production expertise to bring its members quality and quantity. That doesn’t mean they squeeze as many grapes as possible every day to meet a rush in demand. The quality and quantity combination instead comes from a carefully crafted plan that enables managed production under the unforgiving eye of its co-founder and “Chief Wine Officer” Brian Smith, whose expertise as a sommelier and winemaker is embedded into every bottle produced.
His credentials, by the way, will serve Winc, its clients, and new investors well by ensuring that his club’s offerings could easily earn their way onto the country’s best retail shelves and wine lists. His efforts are paying off. After a successful Seed Invest crowdfunding raise, he took the company to the next step, raising about $22 million before expenses and getting his brand listed on the Big Board. Still, it’s important to note that the move on Thursday was only another step. Reading through its prospectus, it’s clear that the Winc mission is far from over.
That’s excellent news for wine lovers of all sizes, shapes, and financial demographics. And while Winc wines can indeed satisfy the connoisseurs that like to explain that each sip out of the glass cost $125, Winc also targets consumers that enjoy quality time with friends and lazy fireplace outings where bottles, chilled or not, can be uncorked and enjoyed over a bevy of love or laughter. Both can enjoy Winc the same.
Delivering Drinkable Satisfaction
Look, there’s nothing wrong with sitting in a cozy stone-walled cellar where storied bottles are opened with the hope of them not tasting like vinegar. There’s a place for that in the wine world. But, there’s a substantially bigger place and market for what Winc is exploiting by creating a community of wine drinkers and enthusiasts that simply like to enjoy wine without all the extra hubba-hubba.
And Winc is proving it’s doing the right things to accomplish its goals by creating a club that tailors selections to client tastes. Moreover, Winc has never shied away from acknowledging that its consumers come first, setting its priorities from the start to curate budget-friendly wines that offer value, usability, and approachability. Better yet, they never have and never will serve up a one-size-fits-all list.
That’s where the technology comes in. In simplest terms, it’s a dating app for wine buyers and bottles. A short taste profile quiz asks about coffee preferences, citrus, mushrooms, and how much salt its drinker adds to foods. From there, some calculations are made that translate into a monthly selection of wines that please the wallet and the personal palette. Notably, Winc was one of the first clubs to integrate technology into its personalized selection list, starting to customize wine recommendations back in 2012. And like wine, some details get better with age. Winc still uses a quiz to gauge the preferences of all its new Winc subscribers. Still short but very powerful in its analytical read.
Oh, it’s only simple on the user’s end. For Winc, it’s just one part of a process that leads them to recommend specific selections. While those initial questions offer a great start, the real power in technological screening and profiling happens through members’ interaction with the platform. The more involved the client, the more accurate the selections are.
The better news is that selections are more than personally tailored; they are filled with an ambition by Winc to make every bottle produced the best it can be. And they can do that by technically being a winery. As noted, they create all the wines they sell. And that advantage gives Winc greater freedom to produce new selections but, more importantly, the ability to ship directly to consumers. By the way, they bottle a lot of variety.
Variety Is The Spice In Life
To date, Winc released hundreds of cuvées (blended wine) made from at least 50 different grape varieties, shipping millions of glasses and hundreds of thousands of cases in toal. Moreover, when clients like something, they can get it. Unlike other wine clubs that offer proprietary cuvées, most are produced as a small-scale run. Thus, customers there get met with long waiting lists, or worse, get their orders filled with bulk-purchased products that get bottled onsite. In a way, those customers can get blindsided. Remember, a Swiss Made watch can have that designation if a certain proportion of the watch is assembled in Switzerland. Using bulk, sometimes inferior wines, and bottling and labeling onsite can utilize the same shortcut. To reiterate- that’s not Winc’s style.
Instead, Winc tends to go deep on what they feel should exist in the world and stay away from what shouldn’t. So to make sure they can meet demand, in addition to the Santa Barbara vineyards that form the core of Winc’s holdings, Winc has cultivated partnerships with other growers and vintners around the world. Thus, when Winc doesn’t feel that it can make something really unique or as good as someone else, instead of abandoning the mission, they leverage its community of friends, experts, and winemakers to help create exciting alternatives for its customers.
So, what’s the result of all the hard work? An extremely popular club, glowing reviews, and an NYSE listing. In fact, Winc has transformed from its humble beginnings into one of the most popular wine clubs in the nation. Better still, they make their clients look good. How? By letting them know it’s okay to know as little about wine as they want and allowing the Winc technology to do the legwork.
In fact, Winc is pretty clear on that point, saying that the less its clients know, the greater the opportunity to learn through an unbiased approach that puts exploration and enjoyability ahead of the opinion of another with an entirely different set of taste-buds.
Listen, Don’t Tel
And that could be the defining difference with Winc compared to its competitors. Winc listens when others tell. They also offer variations of memberships that are easy on the wallet. Customers can go on a monthly subscription or al a carte with very reasonable shipping fees for both.
Once signed up and the initial survey is taken, Winc’s technology takes over to offer a selection of wine bottles it thinks would be best, sourcing from vineyards and winemakers all over the world to make its cuvées. And there are a lot of varieties. Since launching the company, Winc has produced more than 664 wines from 78 grape varieties from 97 regions across 12 different countries. Even better, from those connections, Winc stays on-trend and generally ahead of the wine club pack in its offerings.
Once the selections are made, expect the wines to be securely packed and delivered to the client’s doorstep. Included are some tasting notes and an overview of the choices provided. Here’s the best part. With Winc, there’s interaction. So, users simply log into their account and rate the bottles sent on their Winc profile. The information entered is then processed intending to deliver better recommendations for the next box. Remember, tastes change with age. So, with Winc listening instead of telling, satisfaction is generally the end result.
A Total Package Of Likability
Thus, it’s easy to like Winc from a client and investor perspective at the end of the wine-drinking day. After all, by all accounts, they are doing everything right. Winc engages with its customers, creates all its products, is dependable, and has the unique ability compared to its peers of delivering to client tastes rather than consumers receiving what’s in stock at other clubs.
Hence, popular club, great management, excellent product, an NYSE listing, and rave reviews. There’s a lot to like about Winc, Inc. And now, with the ability to invest in the company through its public listing, clients and investors may be able to toast to good fortunes ahead. With a healthy bank account, prosperous business model, and low share count, it’s likely.
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