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USA: WineTasting.com Acquires Aficion.com

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Lesley P. Berglund, president and CEO of WineTasting.com(SM), announced the purchase of leading competitor Aficion.com, from Roundhouse LLC.

Aficion.com was the first Internet wine portal to provide wineries with e-commerce solutions and the largest Application Service Provider (ASP) in the wine industry to date. This purchase strengthens WineTasting.com's position as the industry's leading direct to consumer cooperative. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Sausalito-based Roundhouse LLC launched Aficion.com in October 1999 as the first winery-direct sales destination on the Internet. Ten wineries currently have e-commerce enabled virtual tasting rooms at the site including Arrowood Vineyards, Merryvale Vineyards, Foppiano Vineyards, Brutocao Cellars, Armida Winery, Quivira Vineyards and Thomas Fogarty Winery.

"Aficion.com has paved the way for the last two year; getting the message out to wineries that another, more viable option exists for selling direct to consumers," Berglund said. "The acquisition strengthens WineTasting.com as the source for wine lovers who want to buy directly from their favorite wineries."

WineTasting.com has hired Aficion.com principals Eric Binau and Jennifer Rydzewski as director of Business Development and director of Product Development, substantially adding to its wine e-commerce experience.

Eric Binau was most recently CEO and co-founder of Roundhouse LLC. Prior to that Binau was national sales and marketing director for William O'Neill & Co., publishers of "Investor's Business Daily." Binau is a former equity sales trader for ESI, a division of Morgan Stanley, where he helped build the first online trading vehicle in the late 1980s.

Jennifer Rydzewski was most recently executive producer and co-founder of Roundhouse LLC. Prior to Roundhouse LLC, she was a web producer for Los Angeles-based agency Zentropy Interactive (now Zentropy Partners) where she implemented e-commerce initiatives for corporate branded sites and Fortune 500 companies such as Neutrogena, Kenneth Cole and Nicole Miller. Rydzewski also served as a webmaster with Fleischman Yeast.

Launched March 31, 2000, WineTasting.com is an online cooperative of California's leading wineries, selling directly to wine lovers. WineTasting.com allows consumers direct access to limited distribution wines -- typically available only through the tasting room. WineTasting.com is not a retailer but an online cooperative that provides wineries with the tools and technology needed for successful e-commerce and a direct relationship with the wine lover. WineTasting.com is an outgrowth of Napa-based leading direct marketer Ambrosia.

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