Inertia wins auction for New Vine assets

Napa-based wine services firm Inertia Beverage Group acquired the assets of troubled wine storage and shipping company New Vine Logistics in an auction Monday.

Inertia paid $4.5 million for the assets ? but not the massive debt ? of New Vine, one of the largest and most sophisticated direct-to-consumer wine shipping firms in the nation.

The deal will create a combined company that will keep New Vine operations going and create significant growth opportunities for Inertia, said Ted Jansen, chief executive officer of Inertia.

?This outcome ensures that Inertia Beverage Group will be able to service New Vine?s former clients on an uninterrupted basis, resulting in even greater opportunities for customers, the direct sales channel, and the wine industry as a whole,? Inertia said in a statement.

Inertia helps wineries sell direct to consumers, restaurants and retailers. The company builds and operates Web sites, provides software for online transactions and offers direct shipping. It has about 300 customers.

Founded in 2001, New Vine Logistics developed technology and systems that enabled wineries and online retailers to ship directly to consumers in 44 states. New Vine served about 250 winery customers from a massive, high-tech warehouse in American Canyon.

But New Vine?s debt load was massive. The company expanded in anticipation it would handle online wine sales for Amazon.com, Jansen said. That partnership was in the testing phase when New Vine?s backers pulled the plug on funding.

?We?re hopeful and confident we?ll be able to work out a relationship with (Amazon),? Jansen said.

Inertia tapped existing and new partners for the venture capital it needed for the acquisition.

It pumped more than $1 million into New Vine Logistics in June, helping it resume operations after the company shut down and reduced its 110-employee workforce to a skeleton crew.

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