Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Amazon's New Wine Dept: A Place for Organically Grown Wines

Buying organically grown wine has been a bit of a challenge. Online, one can't always be sure that wine is grown from certified grapes (unless it says it on the label), and the checkout method for each winery or wine merchant is its own process.

Fortunately there's Amazon.com's new Amazon Wine department. This new wine outlet has some pros and cons.


You can accurately identify and order organically grown wines at a glance. I found 87 wines listed for U.S. organic.

Check the organic box on the left and up pops Paul Dolan, Patianna, Bonterra, Benziger, Snoqulamie and Pacific Rim, all solid domestic offerings. Other U.S. brands include high end Long Meadow, and low brow Orleans, Green Truck, Organic Wine Works and Cottonwood Creek (the Franzias' brand). Other listed brands include Carol Shelton, Yorkville Cellars, Heller Estate, Jeriko and Barra of Mendocino.

While Sterling is phasing out its organically grown wines, these are still for sale here; and Korbel's one and only organically sourced Brut was also offered.

No Added Sulfite (NSA) wines are available from Frey and Badger Mountain.

The ordering and shipping costs are displayed very quickly and in an easy to read visual format.


No Added Sulfite wines are not a listed category nor a subcategory in the organic category - i.e. so if you are looking for "Made with Organic Grapes" (which you should be) on the label, you have to look more carefully. Frey and Badger do not make these wines, but are a significant portion of the bottles offered.

Despite the ease and convenience, shipping charges are only marginally cheaper than buying direct from the winery on the winery's own web sites - about $10 for 1 to 6 bottles. No merchants are offering wine via Amazon's Prime service (which ships all merchandise free after you pay an annual fee).


For everyday wines
You're still better off becoming a wine club member at a moderately priced winery with ridiculously good wine - like McFadden or Horse and Plow - and getting wine club discounts. Most of the small winery clubs will let you pick your own selection instead of taking quarterly shipments and will let you buy cases as you need them. You'll get discounts in the 25% range (by the case) and when sales happen up to 40% off.

Case shipment runs about $20.

For special wines
Shop online; the best prices are often from wine merchants but they don't provide the online know how to help you find and select wines (nor do clerks in most wine stores).

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