Buying wine is one of those things that, like anything else that’s bought in bulk, can end up being a bit of a drag.
But what if there was a way that you could be saving money on wine but also get to buy precisely the kinds of bottles you want?
Underground Cellar seems poised to change the game for buying wine. The Y Combinator-backed startup has come up with a unique concept for selling bottles to customers.
Here’s how it works: Customers sign up for an account on the site and immediately get access to “secret” deals on wine from wineries all over the world. These wines can then be dispatched to their door right away, or they can choose to hold them in Underground Cellar’s temperature and humidity-controlled wine cellar for on-demand delivery.
The company has struck up deals with over 100 wineries from all over the world who sell their wines through Underground Cellar.
These wineries include Napa Valley cult favorites like Hundred Acre Winery and Grgich Hills Estate and smaller up-and-comers from countries like Australia, Chile, and Argentina.
In addition to buying standard bottles of wine, the company also lets customers purchase package deals that include random free upgrades to premium or rare wines from various wineries.
Wines received by users aren’t sent from the wineries themselves. Instead, wines are shipped directly to customers’ homes from Underground Cellar’s network of storage locations so that they don’t have to worry about the logistics of moving wine across state lines or shipping it during hot summer months.
“We’re not really a winery,” explains CEO Jeff Shaw. “If you go to Grgich Hills Estate, their tasting room is closed on Sunday, and they don’t ship. But we can get you a bottle of wine from them.”
This is an advantage for customers who want otherwise hard-to-find wines like Hundred Acre’s Cabernet Franc or Freemark Abbey’s Shake Ridge Ranch Zinfandel.
“Depending on the vintage, some of these wines may only be available through Underground Cellar,” says Shaw.
In addition to the wineries themselves, wine critics have also taken notice of Underground Cellar’s efforts. A quick search for reviews on popular wine review sites like Robert Parker Wine Advocate and Vinous yields many positive write-ups from recognized experts who have tasted the wines that Underground Cellar offers.
As for how they’ve managed to get all these deals with wineries, Shaw says that his team members helped set up relationships directly with wineries at last year’s Napa Valley Wine Auction. The company is also working closely with distributors like Premier Cru, who bring unique wines to the site every week.
New wines are added to the site every week, which means that customers will constantly be discovering new varieties.
“A lot of people don’t even know what a Grüner Veltliner is,” says Shaw, who credits the company’s unique wine selection as being one of its biggest selling points.
It seems as though the company’s main challenge is dealing with the sheer amount of wines it has on offer.
“I’m still trying to figure out how we’re going to organize all this.”