Covid-19: Naked Wines pledges $5m support for global winemakers

Online wine retailer Naked Wines has pledged to help winemakers affected by the closure of restaurants, tasting rooms and traditional retail stores during the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis.

The business said today (24 April) that up to $5 million will be made available to independent winemakers looking to sell their wines via Naked Wines’ US, UK, and Australia operations.

The fund will be deployed to purchase stock that was previously destined for restaurants, tasting rooms and shops, as the temporary closure of such venues continues to impact the drinks industry.

To qualify for funding, organisations or individuals must be an independent wine producer or winemaker, be able to display a proven track record of quality, show evidence of Covid-19 business impact, and have cleared any importer/agent exclusivity arrangements.

Nick Devlin, Naked Wines group CEO, who recently suggested the current crisis could serve as an inflection point for the online wine category, said the pandemic has resulted in the suffering of small winemakers reliant on traditional channels to market.

“We’d like to invite the most talented of them a way out of this; and to our customers, access to unique and delicious wines we haven’t been able to get hold of before,” he remarked.

Eamon FitzGerald, global wine director at the retailer, added that it “feels right” to help the industry via this new initiative. The move should, of course, have a positive impact on Naked's business, too, allowing it to augment its network of producers, and bring more variety to its angel investor-style customer base.

“I’d encourage all independent winemakers looking for either long-term relationships or one-off cash deals to apply,” he noted.

“Naked Wines offers talented winemakers a direct route to market, so you can spend your time making your wines taste delicious, rather than worrying about selling them.”

Drinks retailers Naked Wines and Majestic – which, until last year’s demerger, were part of the same group – have both been running regular online video wine tastings on social media and videoconferencing platforms, to maintain communication with customers during the crisis.