There are websites that sell wine and websites that help visitors locate wineries, but what about one website that lets you do both? And on top of that, what about a website that lets you rate wineries you've visited and search for wineries by specific criteria, for example those that sell organic wines or those that will let you host a wedding on site?
Well, that sort of all-inclusive site doesn't quite exist right now — but a duo of Scottsdale entrepreneurs, including well-known local restaurateur Peter Kasperski, wants to change that.
In November 2014, Kasperski and business partner Babak Motamedi soft-launched a wine-oriented website called Kazzit. The site aims to be not just an online wine sales platform, but also an all-inclusive online community "connecting wineries, vineyards, restaurateurs, collectors, and enthusiasts." Right now, the site lets users search through a database of thousands of wineries in more than a half dozen countries, but in the future Kasperski and Motamedi hope to list hundreds of thousands of wineries all over the world.
The idea for the site came after a couple of drinking sessions, Motamedi says, and countless conversations about how to get into the online wine sales business. After a period of fundraising and development earlier this year, Kazzit, which is based out of offices in Old Town Scottsdale, functions a lot like a travel planning site specifically for wine tourism.
Through Kazzit, users can search for wineries in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK, and Ireland, and use filters to find wineries with various features such as “wedding venue,” “dog friendly,” or “offers vineyard tours.” The website breaks down locations more simply too, by country, state, and city, and even by type of wine – red, white, or rosé. Through filter options that pop up intermittently, users can narrow in on the profile of winery that best suits their travel plans. On the downside, while it's easy enough to search for a particular winery by name or with very specific modifiers, results can be tiresome to scroll through, making it hard to discover a an entirely new-to-you winery.
Users can create free profiles, through which they can review wineries they've visited.
Wineries and vineyards can also join Kazzit but must pay a monthly subscription that ranges from $99-$199 per month in order to maintain the content of their profile. Subscribers can upload photos, details about the winemaker, awards, and "badges," as well as other informative tidbits based on their subscription package. However, despite the steep monthly fees, wineries and vineyards will not be able to influence their ratings and reviews. Motamedi assures that the Kazzit team, like Yelp, will take the fair moderation of reviews very seriously.
In the last few decades, wine tourism has shown itself to be an industry with notable staying power. In Napa Valley alone, nearly 45% of wine revenue comes from direct sales. From that angle, Kazzit makes a lot of sense — individuals are looking for more convenient ways to seek out popular travel destinations for buying wine. As for locations that are outside of established wine regions? Although shelling-out for a profile might seem a bit peculiar for smaller wineries whose profit margins can be extremely slim, Kasperski hopes that Kazzit will help consumers discover locations closer to where they reside. This could be good news for Arizona's small but flourishing wineries and vineyards, should they choose to subscribe.
Kazzit has only about 3,000 wineries currently listed, although it grows by about 50 new listings per day, Motamedi says. He and Kasperski hope to ultimately list more than 200,000 wineries worldwide. If that sounds like an awful lot of wineries, that's because it is. Other long term goals for Kazzit include further development of wine events listings, industry-relevant news, and more specific search criteria like “sustainable practices” and “organic wine.”
And of course, Motamedi hopes to see an e-commerce store launch soon where wine can be both bought and sold.
Listing a profile for every winery in the world seems a daunting task, and it'll be interesting to watch the Kazzit team try to keep up with the ever-growing task of adding content — while also improving the ease of navigation on the sometimes clunky site.
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