Online marketplace eBay is expanding the number of wines available on its site through a new partnership with direct-to-consumer (DTC) specialist WineDirect.

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eBay said consumers would gain direct access to WineDirect’s winery partners – the Napa-based company works with some 1,600 small and medium-sized producers – on the eBay Wine marketplace.

The new partnership includes wines not normally available online, and customers will also be able to send wines as gifts for special occasions.

The news comes as a Wines & Vines survey released this week revealed that more premium wine lovers in the US are going straight to the winery to buy than ever before, with US producers sending 17% more wine direct to consumers in 2016 and the value of sales exceeding $2bn for the first time.

Meanwhile, eBay said Champagne and red wine were the two most searched wine-related terms on its site, while a California Pinot Noir is the top-selling wine.

‘We’re excited to empower small and mid-sized wineries by connecting them with eBay’s millions of customers through our innovative partnership,’ said Joe Waechter, president and CEO of WineDirect.

‘This is a fantastic opportunity for wineries to share their passion and their product with new audiences, and for shoppers to gain unparalleled access to wines direct from the source.’

In August last year, eBay stepped up its wine presence in the UK by joining forces with mail order merchant Laithwaite’s.

The online marketplace, which launched its US wine platform across 45 states in less than a year ago, also announced that its wine operations would expand into Germany later this month.

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