Long Meadow Ranch Wines Now Available in 42 States
July 11, 2005, Rutherford, CA
Long Meadow Ranch announced today that its wines will be available directly to consumers in 42 states and the District of Columbia, covering nearly 90 percent of the nation's wine drinkers.
Long Meadow Ranch has entered into agreements with New Vine Logistics (NVL) to provide logistical and compliance services and with eWinery Solutions to provide an online order entry and management system that is tightly integrated with the NVL warehouse, shipment, and, compliance systems.
"We are very pleased to be dramatically expanding - legally and efficiently - the reach of our winery business."
"These changes will allow us to ship to 20 additional states - including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, and Texas - and to reduce the shipping charges borne by our customers by nearly 20 percent," said co-owner Ted Hall. "Now we can directly ship our wine to all but just eight remaining states."
Effective immediately, Long Meadow Ranch Winery will begin accepting new memberships in its exclusive wine club, LMR Corral Club, from residents in all of the newly added states. In addition, existing customers will be able to send gifts of wine to the newly expanded group of "ship-to" states well ahead of the upcoming holiday season. "We will begin implementation immediately and will be adding states as we receive clearance from the various regulatory authorities. We plan to be fully operational by September 1," said Ted Hall.
The U.S. Supreme Court's May 16th decision to strike down direct shipping bans in New York and Michigan has caused many industry pundits to forecast greater opportunities for small wineries, greater choice for consumers, and the eventual crumbling of the nation's 60-year-old, three-tiered alcohol distribution system. However, even the staunchest direct shipping proponents see such change happening gradually, and even then only after years of sustained marketing, lobbying, and further litigation.
Long Meadow Ranch has long been able to ship its olive oil and beef throughout the United States because these products are not regulated in the same state-by-state fashion as wine. "As we have increasingly built a national brand awareness of Long Meadow Ranch through the internet, national print publications, and cable television and radio coverage, we have been disappointed because we could not serve our many potential new customers, nor could we provide wine to our existing olive oil and beef customers," said co-owner Laddie Hall. "Being unable to fully serve our customers is very frustrating and waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court decision to be fully implemented could take several more years," she added.
NVL and eWinery Solutions each will play an important role in efficiently expanding Long Meadow Ranch's wine reach.
NVL will ship Long Meadow Ranch wines both to reciprocal states, where shipping directly to consumers is already allowed, as well as to states where current regulations requires the use of a legally mandated three-tiered distribution system.
In many states, all out-of-state wine must flow through the three-tiered system of producer-to-wholesaler-to-retailer. NVL can ship into such three-tiered states because it has legally-compliant working agreements with distributors and retailers, both of which often must play a role in the transaction to fulfill local regulatory requirements. Further, NVL has automated - for all 43 jurisdictions - the hugely cumbersome process of tracking the multi-party shipments, making payments to all entities, filing the related compliance documents, and collecting the applicable sales and excise taxes.
NVL , which four years ago acquired its extensive logistical infrastructure after the collapse of two online wine sales companies (wineshopper.com and Wine.com), is seen by many as the company best positioned to benefit from an increase in direct shipping of wine. NVL has the benefit of nearly $60 million of investment in a state-of-the-art warehouse and shipping system modeled after Amazon.com. The company's 130,000-square-foot warehouse is located close to premium wine country in the city of American Canyon in southern Napa County. This facility enables NVL to efficiently "pick, pack, and ship" customer orders and to consolidate shipments for delivery in temperature-controlled trucks at favorable rates. Long Meadow Ranch's customers will benefit from the resulting lower shipping and handling charges.
"We are very pleased to be working with an innovative winery like Long Meadow Ranch," said Kathleen Schumacher, chief executive officer and president of New Vine Logistics (NVL). "NVL's strong "green" management practices are closely aligned with Long Meadow Ranch's approach and their business already stretches across the country. It is a natural fit," she concluded.
An online order entry and management system developed by eWinery Solutions will provide the critical links between the NVL warehouse and Long Meadow Ranch's online store, the retail store at the winery, and the phone and mail order desk. Wines and other Long Meadow Ranch products (except beef) will be stored at NVL's warehouse and will be automatically consolidated there for timely shipment. Customers will receive a shipment tracking number when an order is placed and Long Meadow Ranch's inventory and accounting systems will be automatically updated. Customers can even include a personalized message printed on customized Long Meadow Ranch gift cards.
"We really believe that this is an important step in enhancing our sustainable business practices. When the combined system is fully implemented, we will eliminate at least one physical movement of our products prior to shipping, cut intermediate packaging costs, and reduce paper and energy usage at the winery," said Ted Hall. "Of course, we will continue to use our recycled-paper and chemical-free packaging systems," he added.
eWinery Solutions is a subsidiary of Legacy Clubs, Inc., which is one of the largest and most successful wine club operators in the country. The company's club business, called Legacy Wine Clubs, operates its own proprietary specialty wine clubs as well as provides private-branded wine club services to corporations, alumni groups, and trade associations.
"NVL was the logical solution to cover the entire country legally and efficiently - which is essential to a national affinity group offering a wine club," said eWinery Solutions founder and Legacy Clubs CEO, Dick Kline. "We developed the software to process sign-ups, club shipments, and re-orders and to efficiently interface with the state-of-the-art NVL system for our wine club businesses. NVL picks, packs, and ships our wine club orders and handles the payment, compliance, and tax collection obligations as well. After several years of "full combat" stress testing by our club business, we decided to offer this proven service directly to winery customers. We are pleased to add Long Meadow Ranch to our growing list of forward-looking clients," added Kline.
A key consumer feature of the eWinery software requires an online shopper to declare the shipping destination at the outset of a session. By knowing the shipping destination, the system presents the shopper with destination-specific tax, shipping, and handling costs. The system can calculate these costs based on the unique requirements of each destination's jurisdiction. This approach ensures fair treatment of customers and makes transparent the differences in taxes charged by cities and states.
"We decided we should not wait for new regulations to emerge. Too many of our customers already - wrongly - believe that Supreme Court's decision allows them to purchase wine directly from the winery now," said Long Meadow Ranch Winery VP & General Manager, Cathy Hazel. "With this combined system we can meet our customers' current expectations. Further, we can immediately gain many important efficiencies and we will be prepared to gain additional efficiencies if and when the regulatory environment simplifies."
Importantly, Long Meadow Ranch Winery does not plan to alter relationships with its existing distributors who operate in the newly added "ship-to" states. "Remember that we have healthy, productive relationships with distributors in states where we are already shipping directly to consumers. We have learned that direct shipments build primary demand for our wines in local markets," said on-premise sales manager, Chris Hall.
"Our wine club shipments and the occasional re-orders and gift purchases build loyalty and commitment to Long Meadow Ranch. When our customers go out to a restaurant they disproportionately order our wine because they feel they have a direct personal relationship with the winery. They really like to talk to their friends about us and to tell our story. Similarly, when it is time to make a major purchase, most of our customers go to their local retailer because the purchase can be immediate and convenient - and it generally saves them money on shipping and handling costs," Chris Hall concluded.
"This is a win-win situation. Our customers are better served, our brand identity is strengthened, and our distributors gain more long-term business."
Long Meadow Ranch is an innovative organic farming operation - and purveyor of fine food - located high above the Napa Valley on the picturesque slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains where it produces extraordinary red wine, extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed beef, eggs, and heirloom fruits and vegetables for Napa Valley's finest restaurants. Long Meadow Ranch produces ultra premium wines and extra virgin olive oils, under the Long Meadow Ranch Winery, Ranch House Red, Prato Lungo, and Napa Valley Select labels. Beyond the Napa Valley, America's top chefs have regularly featured Long Meadow Ranch wines and olive oils.
Long Meadow Ranch has been known as such since 1872 when it was established as an original "patent grant" ranch signed over by President Ulysses S. Grant. Having been home to a variety of uses during its long history, Long Meadow Ranch continues to grow and prosper through Ted, Laddie and Christopher Hall's stewardship.
The Halls continue to restore and preserve Napa Valley's oldest olive groves, as well as add new plantings of olive trees and vineyards. They have also brought cattle, poultry, and vegetables back into commercial production. Appaloosa horse breeding, along with an extensive composting operation, round out the integrated farming activities at the Ranch.
"Excellence through Responsible Farming" is the motto of Long Meadow Ranch, bolstered by the belief that world-class products can be produced using sustainable, organic farming methods. Long Meadow Ranch does not use herbicides or pesticides and its products are organically grown and certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers.
Contact: Chris Hall