Martha Stewart, a convicted felon barred from tending a bar or owning a wine shop, can still serve her fans wine.
The entrepreneur, who turned being a doyen of domesticity and design into a multimillion-dollar fortune, has licensed her name to a direct-to-consumer wine club. With backing from Sequential Brands Group, Inc. and DRINKS HOLDINGS, LLC, a direct-to-consumer digital marketing company, she has opened Martha Stewart Wine Co.
“I am excited to bring my passion for wine to wine lovers across the nation with Martha Stewart Wine Co.,” Ms. Stewart said in a press release. “Wine has played an important role in that part of my life focused on entertaining and teaching others how to entertain. With the launch of this fabulous online wine shop, I am confident that we can teach consumers how to pour the right wine, and enjoy the right wine, at every occasion.”
While the club promises a wide range of wines at various price points (generally between $12.50 and $29.99), it’s unlikely to offer some of the gems Ms. Stewart found while cleaning out and reorganizing the wine cellar in her Winter House. That project, documented on her blog, uncovered some lovely bottles including ’01 Cims de Porrera Classic Priorat DOCa (average price $90), ’99 Chateau Lafite Rothschild ($798) and a ’98 Dom Perignon ($284).
“We are thrilled to announce today’s expansion of the Martha Stewart brand, as it adds an entirely new product category to the business, while also furthering our e-commerce strategy,” added Karen Murray, CEO of Sequential Brands Group. The publicly traded company has seen its share price dive more than 40 percent in the last 52-week period. By comparison the S&P500 is up more than 14 percent.
In 2004, Ms. Stewart was ordered to serve five months in prison for obstructing a federal securities probe. New York State law prohibits felons from holding a liquor license. Ms. Stewart, who lives in New York, will not have her name appear on the liquor license. Instead, she has licensed her name to the project. A spokeswoman said she will be helping taste the wines and selecting them “but she will have nothing to do with the sales.”