Wine.com, the world's leading online wine destination, today announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire European Wine Exchange GmbH (EWX), a pioneering e-commerce company addressing both the business-to-consumer and business-to-business market in Germany. The acquisition of EWX is the first in a series of steps wine.com is taking to secure a leadership position in the European market.

The EWX site will be integrated into the wine.com U.S. site in 2001 and will serve the German wine market via the URL with an internationally sourced collection of quality wines. The acquisition follows the recent announcement that wine.com and WineShopper.com would merge.

"Our goal is to build the leading online wine destination in the world," said Bill Newlands, CEO of wine.com. "Europe is the world's largest wine consuming region, so it's natural that we would focus there as a next step. To be successful, we will have to create a compelling service that meets the unique needs of European wine consumers. The EWX acquisition brings us critical additional assets we need to be successful -- a proven regional team with local market expertise, and strong industry and trade relations."

EWX was founded by Tarek El Din and Marc Steiner to address the online wine opportunity in Germany. The company's pioneering approach to both the B2C and B2B markets as well as its dedication to excellent customer service has earned the company praise from customers and industry observers. The management team combines extensive experience in the German wine trade, global wine sourcing, technology, finance and marketing. El Din will continue in the combined company as the managing director of wine.com's German efforts. Steiner will support the company in an advisory role.

"By joining forces with wine.com we will be building upon years of experience gained marketing wine online and exceeding customer expectations in the United States," said Tarek El Din, founder of EWX. "Wine.com's superior technology expertise and logistics capabilities will provide us with a stable platform from which to operate as we begin to focus all of our efforts on building Germany's leading online wine B2C and B2B marketplace."

Wine.com and WineShopper.com, the two leading U.S. online wine sites, recently announced their intention to merge. Wine.com is backed by TH Lee.Putnam Internet Partners, New Millennium Partners, GE Capital, MediaOne Ventures, Inroads Partners, Alpine Technology Ventures, and Applied Technology. WineShopper.com is backed by Amazon.com, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and other strategic investors.