Vino time: there’s a new James Halliday start-up that directly links wine lovers and wineries

by James Wilkinson

Popular Australian wine critic James Halliday has joined forces with the Entertainment Group to launch the Entertainment Wine Community, a new platform to connect wine lovers and wineries across the nation.

Set to officially launch in early 2022, Halliday says the new, direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketplace is currently inviting Australian wineries to join the community which will give customers direct access to multiple wineries in one transaction.

The new partnership has been made possible thanks to a deal between the Entertainment Group – which offers members up to 50% off and 2-for-1 offers from local restaurants, online shopping, gift cards and more – and Halliday’s wine technology start-up Junovate, which he co-founded with Judy Pridmore.

“The wine industry has faced numerous challenges in recent years, from droughts, bushfires and the pandemic,” he says. “The smaller wineries particularly are keen to grow their DTC audience, so now is really the time to get behind them.

“Over the past 18 months, we have been working to support wineries by encouraging wine lovers to buy direct through our Cellardoor Challenge initiative, so joining with Entertainment Group to reach their customer base allows us to build on our efforts.

“We both share an ethos to support local and the community, and we’re excited to bring wineries and wine lovers together through this partnership.”

Halliday says sales go directly through the winery, with no-upfront costs, as Entertainment Wine Community taps into the explosive growth of online sales, accessing the highly engaged Entertainment audience of over 700,000 customers.

This follows the huge contribution DTC channels made to local wine sales over the past year, outperforming all other sales channels and increasing profitability with a higher average sales value, according to the group.

Entertainment Wine Community says the marketplace will enable wineries to feature their complete, or selected range of wines as well as their experiences, both at promoted and recommended retail prices.

“At Entertainment, we’ve established ourselves as one of the country’s most innovative programs connecting local businesses with communities and consumers and look forward to extending this to support the wine industry,” says Entertainment Group’s CTO, and incoming CEO, Ani Chakraborty.

“It’s no secret Australia is home to some of the world’s best wine, so we are thrilled to be launching Entertainment Wine Community to showcase the full breadth of what the industry has to offer.

“This unique new marketplace is a place where our wine lovers and wineries will meet, sharing amazing Australian wines, and great experiences.”

The company says the launch of Entertainment Wine Community comes after a tough 18 months of Australian lockdowns, in which local wineries saw a 23% decrease in the number of visitors to their cellar doors.

“As a boutique winery in the remote region of the Great Southern in Western Australia, we are excited to learn how we can tell our story and showcase our wines to a whole new audience through this Entertainment Wine Community’s new DTC marketplace,” says Patrick Corbett, co-founder and director of Singlefile Wines.

As well as introducing hundreds of wineries directly to consumers, Entertainment Wine Community says it will also enable members to share the wines they’re enjoying, their experiences and recommendations with other wine lovers, while also receiving exclusive offers and rewards on their purchases.