New Vine Logistics suspends operations

  • 5/17/2005: A13: Marvin Ware packs wine for distribution at New Vine Logistics in American Canyon in April.

    PC: Photo by Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat Marvin Ware packs bottles of wine in the forward picking area at New Vine Logistics in American Canyon on Thursday morning, April 21, 2005.

New Vine Logistics, a Napa company that helped hundreds of wineries move into the world of e-commerce and ship directly to consumers across the United States, shut down abruptly Friday when its investors pulled the plug.

It laid off most of its about 100 employees at its Napa headquarters and American Canyon warehouse after two venture capital firms decided late Wednesday not to re-invest in the company, according to sources close to the deal.

A core group of employees, including New Vine founder Katie Hoertkorn, continued working Monday to wind down the operation.

Messages left for Hoertkorn were not returned.

Many wineries scrambled Monday to figure out how to retrieve wine stored at New Vine?s warehouse and whether it still intended to make pending wine shipments.

In an e-mail sent Monday to customers, Hoertkorn said New Vine ?is in a state of financial crisis and has been forced to cease operations.? The company intends to ship all orders made before 5 p.m. Saturday, she said.

The e-mail did not indicate if the company could manage that task with its skeleton crew, or how it would fund the continued small-scale operation.

New Vine began to collapse Wednesday when two venture capital firms reversed course and decided not to reinvest in New Vine, according to several sources familiar with the deal.

?The investors who had committed to providing the funding decided it was cheaper to just walk away,? said Barbara Insel, a Napa wine industry analyst who served on New Vine?s advisory board. ?It was a shock to the management and everyone else.?

Silicon Valley Bank, which had loaned the company money, stepped in Friday and effectively shut the company down, according to Insel and a New Vine employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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