The world’s largest e-commerce site began its third foray into the world of wine Thursday. Amazon.com says customers can now order online from a list of nearly a thousand wines from around the country.
KQED News anchor Stephanie Martin spoke with reporter Cathy Bussewitz, who covers California’s wine country for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, about the online retailer's latest move into another formerly offline commodity.
Stephanie Martin: Amazon tried to do this in 1999 and then again 10 years later, and both efforts were very expensive failures. What went wrong ?
Cathy Bussewitz: Well, at the time there were and there still are today a lot of regulatory hurdles for shipping wine directly to consumers. One of the main things that really changed is that about a year ago some of those regulations were relaxed, so a third-party provider like Amazon can now ship direct to consumers, as long as the winery itself remains in charge of the sale. That sort of paved the way for regulators to get back into the scene. Stephanie Martin: The public relations director at Rodney Strong Vineyards, Robert Larson, really summed up the complicated nature of wine shipping when he said to you, “It’s a whole lot easier to send a gun to another state than it is to send a bottle of wine.” Even with the change that you just talked about, it’s still complicated, isn’t it?