SevenFifty drags the wine industry into the 21st century

sevenfifty Picture yourself at a wine trade tasting: there are hundreds of wines to taste but you have to juggle a bulky tasting notebook, a pen, and a wine glass while swirling, spitting and dodging fellow tasters who may be heading to the spit bucket. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you could see the tasting book on your smart phone, sort by style or wine region, and take notes in a profile?

That’s what I did yesterday at a tasting of the NYC distributor Verity Wine Partners. It was my first tasting without using a pen and, having done it, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Not only was it so much more convenient during the tasting, but when I got back to my desk, I could access my tasting notes and star ratings online. There was no booklet to throw out or clutter my office and no scribbling that was indecipherable the next day.

Such an approach is now possible thanks to an innovative company called SevenFifty, a startup that is quietly dragging the wine industry into the 21st century. So much of the trade seems out of date–such as those tasting notebooks–that it has yet to reap the benefits of the digital revolution.

Take another scenario. You’re a buyer at a shop or a restaurant, you see a picture from a friend on social media or read a more formal review somewhere of a wine that’s new to you but sounds great. You want to contact the distributor to arrange a sample or place an order, but don’t know who carries it. So you go to SevenFifty.com, plug in the wine name, and get the distributor info, frontline pricing, discounts, a label image and more.

Aaron Sherman, 28, founded SevenFifty in January with two partners. A former sommelier, he confronted the actual problem of trying to locate a wine, and being frustrated finding it. After stints as a sommelier at WD-50, l’Artusi and then running the beverage program at Jose Andres’ restaurant The Bazaar in LA, he decided to tackle wine’s outdated information systems head-on by forming SevenFifty with Gianfranco Verga (formerly of importer Domaine Select) and Neal Parikh.

The response has been “surprisingly, overwhelmingly positive” from New York wholesalers, he says. Starting by targeting “indie” wholesalers in New York, Sherman estimates that with 80 wholesalers onboard, they have about half the distributors and wines available in NYC and feature “wines that most wine buyers are interested in.” (They do hope to include Southern and Empire in the future.) Wholesalers have to post prices with the State Liquor Authority and SevenFifty charges them a “modest” fee to upload the same information to their site. Other states will follow, with New Jersey rolling out next.

“SevenFifty saved my life,” Lara Lowenhar, assistant beverage director at l’Apicio told me yesterday. The restaurant will be opening in a few weeks, but Lowenhar said she was able to put together a draft wine list on SevenFifty and price it out to make sure the wines were within her total budget. “Instead of taking a week, it took me two days,” she said. Previously, she and other sommeliers had to rely on print materials, which were often out of date or incomplete.

Tyler Drinkwater of Dell’Anima says that “it’s great to round out an order.” If he knows he wants a wine from a distributor already, he can sort by various criteria (e.g. white wine, northeast Italy, $10 wholesale) and throw something else. Lowenhar says that if she plugs in a wine and it’s not available, she founds the automatically generated suggestions to be useful. All inventory and pricing on SevenFifty are current, which saves back-and-forths with sales reps.

Getting back to the tasting book experience of rating wines in a profile, more features are in store to share information and facilitates discussion between wholesalers and buyers through the platform.

Unfortunately, the whole package is limited to the trade–a liquor license number is required to set up an account and authorize subsidiary profiles for buyers or sommeliers. But the application is so useful, hopefully a consumer version isn’t too far behind.

sevenfifty sherman
Aaron Sherman and Gianfranco Verga of SevenFifty.com

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12 Responses to “SevenFifty drags the wine industry into the 21st century”


  1. I love this, a long time coming, bravo to finally seeing this ease of doing business in the wine trade. – Ali


  2. Great product built by two really good guys! I agree with you… I think SevenFifty could be a big “game changer” for the wine biz. I’ll be eager to see once they push out a mobile app!


  3. Sounds like it might be very useful app. I’ve done a number of those “pen/glass/spit bucket/book/dunk” exercises, so this sounds like a great help.

    Hope consumer version will be available soon…


  4. I’m a fan of 750.

    They are innovating at the side of the supply chain funnel between the distributor and the retail buyer.

    I’m the founder of a startup, theLocalSip (www.thelocalsip.com) a community marketplace connecting neighborhood wine shops with wine lovers across NY. Our community is where the wine meets the web for the consumers.

    Thanks!


  5. Great idea — was just lamenting to someone at a tasting the other day that I needed a “wine sherpa” to help carry notebook, pen, glass, etc. This is certainly a much more effective solution.


  6. So glad you gave SevenFifty a shout-out Doc!

    I’ve been using SevenFifty for about 2 months now (Gianfranco got me on early) & use it all the time. I was at the Verity tasting as well & used the mobile app without a hitch! As someone who has worked on both the distribution & buying ends, the clarity & ease of this site is exactly what’s needed.

    Another important part about SevenFifty is how they’ve managed to provide all this information without cutting out the role of the Sales Representative. I know a lot of “Old School” reps out there who are a bit wary about websites making their jobs obsolete. The guys at SevenFifty,though,first focused on making their site work for the reps (sales sheets, account tracking etc). I think any serious distributor should strongly consider using this service because it will free up enormous amounts of time for their (hopefully) busy sales reps.

    The truth is,whether or not the “Old School”-ers like it, the industry is going to gravitate towards greater clarity. I’ve already placed orders with two companies I previously did not buy from, whose products I found on SevenFifty. To the Big Wigs out there: use it or not, many of your competitors are already on board with SevenFifty & those are the companies my store is going to do business with!


  7. […] on your smart phone, sort by style or wine region, and take notes in a profile?” Dr. Vino explains how a startup called SevenFifty is making that […]


  8. fine & dandy!!….great work, Aaron


  9. Thanks for the information. Hopefully there will be a consumer version that is easier to navigate than other Apps and websites. Although I still prefer to go to the winery it should allow for easier planning and purchasing when trying to get something quickly, or something not available at local wineries.


  10. Good stuff….more comments like Lara Lowenhar give a lot of credibility…here’s hoping you have smooth sailing in 2013!!….LOVE


  11. It is only as good as the information the distributors put into it, I have not had good results when recently trying to use it. Lots of out of stock or vintage changes after spending hours on it making selections.


  12. …..innovative with exceptional management at the helm!!


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