Melbourne is no stranger to cosy wine bars, but it’s about to get one more, as online wine business Vinomofo turns its Port Melbourne warehouse into an ‘urban cellar door’, where customers can drop in for a drink, and leave with a bottle or two tucked under their arm.
The decision to launch what is, in essence, its first bricks-and-mortar bottle shop came from the unexpected success of the click-and-collect offering that Vinomofo launched earlier this year.
“What we found was that everyone was enjoying the experience of meeting and connecting with Mofos [Vinomofo staff],” Justin Dry, Vinomofo co-founder and CEO, told Heather McIlvaine.
“We had the same people coming back to have chats.”
The company eventually introduced Friday night wine tastings, when most click-and-collect orders were picked up, and has now made the decision to expand the store’s opening hours throughout the week.
In the coming days, customers will be able to visit the Vinomofo warehouse Monday through Friday, from 9am to 5pm, and purchase wine on the spot.
Dry described the move as more of a community service project than a money-maker.
“I don’t have any expectations as far as [financial] return, it’s just a service we want to provide. It’s just a way to connect with the community. I’m not doing it to make money,” he said.
Since Vinomofo installed a bar and retail area in the warehouse when it was built to accommodate pop-up events, and staff are on-site to handle click-and-collect orders anyway, the company did not need to invest extra resources in extending the opening hours.
Dry, who recently became the sole CEO of Vinomofo after his brother-in-law and co-founder Andre Eikmeier stepped back from the day-to-day running of the business, said he is now spending more time on initiatives in the Australian market, like the urban cellar door. Previously, Dry headed up the company’s overseas operations in New Zealand, Singapore and the US, where the company is in the process of launching.
Vinomofo initially had flagged a July launch in the US, but licencing complexities have delayed the launch. Dry said that the US operations are essentially ready to go, but the company has not yet committed to a time.
“My core focus at the moment is on Australia and improvements to our technology, delivery and experience. The US at this stage would be a big project, and you’ve got to choose priorities,” he said.
According to Dry, the company is doing “ridiculously well” in the three markets that it currently operates in and is back to “really strong growth and profitability”.