E-commerce platform for B.C. wine expands, recruits

Wine expert DJ Kearney joins New District as website editor and director of wine

DJ Kearney has spent 15 years in the wine industry as a teacher, wine critic, reviewer and judge

The e-commerce platform for B.C. wine, New District, is trying to beef up the educational content on its NewDistrict.ca website by hiring well-known B.C. wine educator DJ Kearney to be its director of wine and website editor.

The move, managing director Jay Garnett told Business in Vancouver December 3, is aimed at making the company’s portal the go-to place to educate British Columbians about hundreds of B.C. wineries.

Then, while visitors are on the website, they will be encouraged to buy wine.

“We want to be a platform for all B.C. wineries,” Garnett said.

Elin Tayyar founded New District in 2013 and is still with the company but Garnett now owns a majority stake.

He relaunched the platform on October 1 with products from 14 B.C. wineries. New District has since grown to offer products from 29 wineries and Garnett expects that eventually it will offer products from more than 150 B.C. wineries.

“We don’t resell wines,” he said. “We’re not a retailer. We facilitate the wineries getting to the customers.”

He would not disclose what percentage commission New District charges wineries for the service of providing an e-commerce platform but he said that his commission percentage has so far been fixed regardless of sales volume.

“The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch has been very clear on our role between the consumer and the winery,” Garnett said.

“The winery is selling to the consumer. We have a role in this [transaction] much like any wine advocacy board that would take a percentage of the sale.”

Garnett does not expect that all B.C. wineries will be interested in his service. Large wineries, for example, will likely have their own e-commerce websites. Smaller wineries, in contrast, will likely be able to sell all of their production at their winery and therefore would not see the advantage in giving anyone a commission to help them sell their wine.

“What happens is that most B.C. wineries are in the Okanagan and they think everyone knows who they are,” Garnett said. “But, if you bump into someone on the street and ask them to name five B.C. wineries that aren’t the big guys and they would struggle to get to 248. So our goal is to help people discover those wineries.”

The advantage for B.C. wineries who sell directly to consumers, as opposed to through third-party retailers, is that they get a larger percentage of the total sale of the wine.

Kearney has spent 15 years in the wine industry as a teacher, wine critic, reviewer and judge. She has trained thousands of sommelier candidates throughout North America for the International Sommelier Guild (ISG) and the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She also holds both WSET and ISG diplomas.