Exclusive – Discerned wine buyers, heads up. Philip James, who founded major wine site Snooth.com, has teamed up with entrepreneur Kevin Fortuna to launch an online private sales club that enables members to purchase fine wines straight from their producers. Dubbed Lot18, the fledgling company has just landed a $3 million Series A round of funding led by NYC-based VC firm FirstMark Capital.
The round also included returning (unnamed) investors and angels from companies such as Quigo, Time Inc., AOL, Ziff Davis, Bankrate and Experian, and follows a $500,000 seed round closed earlier this year.
Update: from the comments:
Please visit http://www.lot18.com/invite/techcrunch for an exclusive invite to Lot18 (only 500 available!)
From the press release:
Producers struggle to generate consumer recognition and many lack the pricing or negotiating power to ensure good representation at the retail level. Though most wineries have websites that allow them to sell online, it is often difficult to engage new customers who have not heard of, or tasted their wines.
Following personal sourcing of each product by Lot18’s procurement team, Lot18 curates, reviews and presents the offer, with the sale and shipping managed by the winery. This allows producers to engage new markets via insider sales that showcase the winery to enthusiast members across the country.
Lot18’s partners at launch include, evidently, Snooth.com and wineries such as Cornerstone Winery, Boisset Family Estates, and Foley Family Estates.
Lot18 is a membership by invitation website for wine and epicurean products from coveted producers at attractive discounts. Our members have access to some of the finest wines and specialty foods, made available in small quantities at extraordinarily low prices. Lot18 evokes the auction lots of old, where savvy consumers were able to bid on fantastic products at incredible values. Lot18 is a portfolio company of [Gramercy Labs] (http://www.gramercylabs.com), founded by Kevin Fortuna and Philip James.