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WineAccess Travel Log

Read stories from the world's greatest wine trails.

About WineAccess Search

As we now know all too well, being first isn't always best. But, way back in 1996, before Google was both a noun and verb, we came up with a hair-brained idea. We were sitting in the offices of our wine import company when a sales guy pitching internet sites knocked on the door. The truth is, we didn't know what an internet site was, but he was pretty good, so we listened. By the time Bob left us, we saw no merit in creating a site for our company, but saw lots in creating a wine search engine that would allow tens of thousands of wine buyers (who we assumed were somewhere "out there") to shop for, learn about, and purchase bottles from stores across the country. It was a nice idea, but one that proved painfully difficult to execute.

The first obstacle was capturing the active wine inventories of as many top fine wine shops as possible. It didn't take long to figure out that this was a job for Sisyphus. As there was no readily available comprehensive database of wines, one that would include all wines that could possibly appear on store shelves from Santa Monica to 56th Street, we'd have to build that by hand. We spent hundreds of hours in the "Clothespin" Building in downtown Philadelphia, where the software company we'd engaged was headquartered, building hundreds of thousands of Excel spreadsheet rows, each populated with names of producers, wines, vintages, varieties, regions and styles. On summer nights, when the building superintendent was good enough to shut down the AC at 2am, we left our 8th floor cubbies at daybreak and took the elevator down to street level to pick up our bicycles for the long ride home. That's when we realized both that we were half out of our minds-- and that the Clothespin Building was aptly named. Both of us were dripping wet and could well have been hung out to dry.

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