Only a year ago, was truly hot! It raised $200 million from some of the top VC firms. It even merged with, which had received $30 million from, to become the king of the online wine market. Today, is but a memory. The name, the client list and its inventory all liquidated.

Although the reasons for its demise are many, it business methods were similar to many other dot-coms that died early. Most of the dot-com flameouts spent obscene amounts of money to acquire their customers. Their futile hopes of achieving a large enough sales volume to cover expenses never materialized. Were they a victim of the time or would they have failed at any other period? The answer both!

Rising up on like a Phoenix from the ashes are unknown companies like, eVineyard (Portland, OR), which paid $10 million for access to customers and its domain name. Only doing $10 million in sales last year, eVineyard is now the leader in online wine sales. The reason for its success is simple. From the beginning, eVineyard took the time to research and get licensed to sell liquor in 27 states. on the other hand had to make deals with wine sellers in each state, giving away a piece of each sale and thus cutting deeply into its margins. EVineyard also kept its overhead very low (even after buying, where as (and others) put many on the payroll, even before the sales were there to support the overhead.

Another wine site, Houston-based, does not even sell wine yet, instead providing information and newsletters to its viewer ship. In a story by the Houston Chronicle, will begin to take orders for delivery. Starting small, the site will concentrate on the Houston area, and later make deliveries to other states. Pooling its resources with brick-and-mortar retailers, Specsonline is building a national website called, No need to build warehouses or build-up inventory, since its offline partners already stock the necessary supplies.

By carefully charting their path down paths that have worked even before the Internet existed, these two companies should be around for a long time.