ONLINE wine retailer Naked Wines has injected more than $1 million into Australian winemaking since launching four months ago.The innovative company, based on a successful operation in the UK, asks its customers to help finance Australian winemakers, offering high-quality wine at a discount in return.
Naked Wines has recruited more than 2000 donors or "Angels'' since it kicked off in Sydney in July. Each contributes $40 a month.
These funds support seven winemakers from across Australia, allowing them to focus on making wine without having to worry about funding, marketing and retailing their drops, reducing the cost of the finished product by up to half.
Managing director Luke Jecks, who described Naked Wines as a "dating agency'' for winemakers and wine drinkers, said his company's success proved its business model worked.
"The Australian wine industry is dominated by the big supermarkets,'' Mr Jecks said.
"This is not great for producers as it reduces opportunities. It's not great for consumers as it reduces choice.
"Helping winemakers means consumers get better wine at a cheaper price, and they're supporting Australian farmers.''
Naked Wines' makers, among them Sam Plunkett of Plunkett Fowles, New Zealand winemaker Rod Easthope and 2009 Young Winemaker of the Year Jen Pfeiffer, have produced 45 drops for the retailer so far.
Angels can rate and discuss the wines with their makers and other buyers on the Naked Wines website.
Ms Pfeiffer, who released her Rebel Range through Naked Wines, said this interaction had given her confidence in her winemaking.
"I've received wonderful support from the Angels. They have a real enthusiasm for my style of winemaking,'' she said.
The company hopes to adopt 13 more winemakers over the next year and was in talks to create scholarships for young winemakers.