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New auction website aims for ‘eBay’ success

A new fine wine auction website is aiming to become the 'eBay' of the wine trade by offering cut-price lots from a selection of merchants.

The website GrapePip – www.grapepip.com – sells wine through a time-limited auction process, sourcing wines from merchants who sign up to the site. The functionality is ‘similar to global success story eBay,’ its founders claim.

Caspar and Victoria Bowes, who also own merchant Bowes Wine, started the venture as a means for traders to clear cellar overstocks without the stigma of having to offer hefty discounts in their catalogues or on their own websites.

‘In common with many fine wine merchants, Bowes Wine is occasionally left with a few cases of certain wines in pristine condition,’ said Caspar Bowes.

‘We would normally “bin end” this stock, but in line with the feelings of many merchants we’d rather not repeatedly flag these offers up on our own site, so we’ve sought to bring to light a solution.’

The wine trader selling each lot remains anonymous, but GrapePip said it would only accept vendors who could offer full provenance on the wines sold, under ‘strict approval criteria’.

The company also handles the sale, logistics, delivery and customer service functions for all wines sold.

Since the soft launch of GrapePip to existing Bowes Wine customers earlier this month, wines have sold for 20% less than their current market low value, the company claimed.

So far only a handful of French wines are available, and one Austrian, although the owners are confident in their aim of turning over £250,000 in the first year of operations.

As well as fine wine drinkers, the venture is also aiming to target sommeliers looking to source wines for a particular dinner or seasonal offer.

Written by Richard Woodard

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