This article has taken a month to write. It’s not just because I’m attempting to documenting the first month of .WINE domain registrations, but because I had to launch my Wine Domains website to keep track of almost 8,000 domains registered and $936,750 in registration revenue generated during the release.
And what a confusing release it’s been. There were trademark holders who overpaid, Chinese investors who bought English words before numerics, an American clothing company who bought a Chinese character IDN for $1,300, and three wineries who collectively made an $80,000 mistake.
I also got confused by checking availability through my registrar instead of a whois server. This made me think that domains that switched from “available” to “taken” on Day 1 of availability were registrations, when in fact the registry was reserving the domains.
A chaotic release is just the latest, exciting chapter in the wild history of the .WINE and .VIN gTLD, and I can’t get enough of this story. From the lawsuit early on, Saudi Arabia formally objecting to any use of alcohol, followed by the huge popularity during the trademark sunrise, finishing with over $1,000,000 in sales during the Sunrise, EAP, and GA phases, this has been a very exciting TLD.
Looking through the registrations, I’ve painstakingly recreated the registration sequence to find patterns, gems, and questions. Part of that research entailed creating a database that tracked registration dates and most of the registration fees. I was not able to get a list of premium inventory, so I probably underpriced a couple hundred domains by $25 – $400. There were also private transactions during the first month that probably added another six figures to the revenue totals. You can view and search that database on my Wine.Domains website: List of DotWine Domains.
The structure of the .WINE release followed this sequence:
1. “Sunrise” where trademark holders can register domains.
2. “Landrush” or “Early Access Program” (EAP) where prices start high and decrease over time in a Dutch auction format.
3. “General Availability” where domains could be registered at the cheapest price.
During the landrush phase, there were tiered prices where the minimum fee dropped over time, so the longer you waited to register the more the price went down:
|Trademark Sunrise||Tue. 1/19||$500|
|EAP Day 1||Wed. 1/20||$13,000|
|EAP Day 2||Thu. 1/21||$3,000|
|EAP Day 3||Fri. 1/22||$1,300|
|EAP Day 4||Sat. 1/23||$600|
|EAP Days 5-7||Sun. 1/24 – Tue 1/26||$150|
|General Availability||Wed. 1/27||$50|
On day 1, the following domains were registered for at least $13,000 each:
Plum.wine – Wine Plum, Inc.
This domain was registered by a startup WinePlum.com who does not yet own PlumWine.com.
Cambrien.wine – Chapoutier S.A.
The word “cambrien” is the French-specific spelling of “cambrian,” but the French spelling is rarely used outside of France. There is a winery called Cambria (CambriaWines.com), and another called Cambrian Rock (CambrianRockWines.com.au), but this does not appear to be a very defensive domain space. CambrianWine.com, CambrienWine.com, and the plural variations plus Cambrian.wine are all currently available to be registered. The owner of Cambrien.wine appears to be in France, but a Google search turns up just six results, and one of them is the whois record for Cambrien.wine. As if that isn’t remarkable enough, the same entity also registered Cambien.vin for a total of $26,000!
Chapoutier.wine – Chapoutier S.A.
The same service provider registered this and the .VIN equivalent. The end user is likely M. Chapoutier at Chapoutier.com.
Ferraton.wine – Chapoutier S.A.
Again, the same service provider also registered the .VIN equivalent. The end user looks to be Ferraton at Ferraton.fr.
So to summarize, three wineries paid around $80,000 to register six domains that they could have registered for a total of $3,000 during the trademark sunrise, or possibly for $240 during general availability.
On the second day there were only three domains registered at the $3,000 price:
German.wine – WorldWide Media, Inc
This was registered by one of the most active participants in the landrush phase, WorldWide Media, Inc, aka Mike Berkins, aka The.Domains. Looking at the large list of domains that they registered, I’d be interested to learn why this was the highest priority for them. I can say unequivocally that this was the best domain as relates to German wine. Not only is Germany.wine reserved, but German.wine flows better when spoken in the English language.
Tour.wine – Andrew Naylor
This was registered by me to compliment my existing portfolio of wine travel domains. I’m pretty sure I overpaid because it likely would have remained available until Day 4. One of my strategies for investing in the .WINE landrush was to buy low registration fee domains in high-margin businesses that are well suited to online advertising. I did not include the traditional wine business in that category, which is why I bought Travel.wine, Hotel.wine, and Vacation.wine. My number two most desired domain was Shop.wine, and while it is indeed a much better domain than Tour.wine, my reason for passing at $3k was the annual renewal fee of $440, compared to $40 for Tour.wine. Was it an example of being penny wise and pound foolish?
Wine.wine – JunJie Tian
Registered by JunJie Tian of Guang Dong, China, I am having trouble justifying the high price. We know that symmetry, brevity, and clarity are important for Chinese domain investors. However, even with that rationale, building a brand on this name could be an uphill battle in Western markets. For almost the same price, why not register 8.wine and 6.wine on Day 3?
The third day saw the first single character sales at $1,750 each, a fashion company that paid too much for a .WINE domain, and another winery that probably payed too much. There were a total of 20 domains registered starting at $1,300 per domain:
1.wine – Wang Lie
This is a great name in both Eastern and Western markets. Two days later someone else picked up One.wine for $150.
2.wine – Private Registration
This was probably purchased solely for the value of the single number. However, as a Western brand this could be problematic. Because of the many synonyms for the number 2, it could get expensive to protect: to, too, two.
5.wine – Private Registration
In an interesting twist, Five.wine was taken during the trademark sunrise but 5.wine was skipped. Five.wine was registered by Cain who sells a wine called Cain Five.
6.wine – Private Registration
This has more value in the East as the number six is not very popular in the West. To prove the point, Six.wine is still available to be registered.
7.wine – Private Registration
The number seven is valuable both in the East and the West. This domain was likely registered by someone in China, while Seven.wine was registered by someone in Spain. Siete.wine is still available.
8.wine – Jing Yusheng
This was definitely on my list, and probably on many others’ but Jing won the race and didn’t even have to snap it up in the first second of EAP day 3. He waited a little over 9 hours before grabbing it for around $1,750. I can’t predict what will happen over time to the Chinese domain market, but right now this is an extremely valuable domain. In another odd twist Eight.wine is still available to be registered, which goes to show the value that Arabic numerals have in the East.
88.wine – Private Registration
Everyone loves eights.
9.wine – Private Registration
Now here’s where the story begins! Knowing that the numbers 8 and 6 are the most popular numbers in China, for some reason 9.wine was the first number sold. Can anyone explain this? I’m a bit puzzled. It was picked up at 120 seconds after the dawn of Day 3, the same registrar and time as 999.wine.
99.wine – Private Registration
This was part of a batch of three domains including 1.wine and 88.wine, different from the registrant of 9.wine and 999.wine.
999.wine – Private Registration
This sold four days before 888.wine.
E.wine – WorldWide Media, Inc
A logical pickup and a great deal on Day 3.
FerrariTrento.wine – Ferrari F.lli Lunelli S.p.A.
The folks at Ferrari Trento Winery picked this up as one of eight .WINE domains purchased, and one of two during the EAP. They only got one during the trademark sunrise, Ferrari.wine. Based on my understanding of the trademark sunrise, instead of paying $1,300 on Day 3, they could have paid $150 to have additional marks added to the clearinghouse, and then pay $500 for a sunrise registration. The total of $650 would have been cheaper than $1300 and would have guaranteed a registration. It’s possible their trademarks don’t include “Trento” or any of the wine label .WINE domains they purchased, but if those marks are worth $5,000 in domain registrations, wouldn’t they be worth a trademark filing?
Great.wine – WorldWide Media, Inc
This is a super-premium .WINE domain. It has some great branding potential and also works well in a sentence.
Honey.wine – Moonstruck Meadery
As a domain investor I give a lot of respect to a winery who invests in generic domains before their own brand (they waited to buy MoonStruck.wine until GA for regfee). Honey wine is a growing trend in the wine industry, and one which Moonstruck can capitalize on immediately by marketing their wine through this domain. I see this like investing in property adjacent to an existing vineyard, where it adds value to the business and a guaranteed avenue for growth and diversification.
I.wine – WorldWide Media, Inc
Another super-premium domain that’s a category killer. A great buy at $1.750.
Mead.wine – Moonstruck Meadery
Same story as above: they bought a super-premium generic domain at the right price and increased the value of their business.
Natural.wine – M L NEVIN
There are a couple big trends in the wine industry right now, including “natural,” “biodynamic,” and “organic” wine. Natural wine means they farmed organically, and avoided the use of chemicals. This is a much more difficult process and is sought by wine drinkers who want to taste the true expression of the grape.
Order.wine – b52 media
This would be a great wine services website. In the United States especially, the regulations for interstate shipment are so difficult that managing logistics and fulfillment are regularly outsourced.
Shop.wine – Domain Licenses Limited
In my opinion this was the best domain sold during the EAP even with an annual renewal of $440. As I mentioned above, I (incorrectly) ranked this the second most valuable domain available during the prerelease, when it clearly should have been my number one.
香奈儿.wine – Chanel, Inc.
This IDN domain (xn--v4qs9qjl0d.wine) means “Chanel” in Chinese. Chanel has DPML protection on the mark “Chanel,” so they didn’t need to register Chanel.wine but it appears they couldn’t get the same protection on the Chinese equivalent. I’m not sure that was a must buy at $1,300, they probably could have waited until general availability.
On the fourth day, there were 24 domains registered. The EAP fee + registration fee was about $550. One number, three winery names, and an airline company:
0.wine – Jing Yusheng
Another single number domain, but for $1,050 instead of the $1,750 he paid for 8.wine the previous day. Here’s another bargain: Zero.wine is available to be registered right now.
AstiConsorzio.wine – Consorzio per la tutela dell’Asti
One of the premier DOCG regions in Italy. I’m not sure why this wasn’t covered as one of the protected regions, but it’s covered now.
Austrian.wine – Austrian Airlines AG
A good pickup for the airline, but it probably will gather dust in their registrar account rather than be developed.
Buying.wine – WorldWide Media, Inc
For consumers, this is a strong name for a retail sales, reviews and recommendations, coupons, and as a directory. For industry it could be a directory of wine wholesalers or a marketplace for excess production. Another category killer pickup by WWM.
Cal.wine – Andrew Naylor
This was registered by me to focus on the California wine market (where I live). With the best domains reserved (California.wine and Californian.wine), I felt this was the next best thing. I had neglected to notice that CA.wine was available to be registered and it was picked up by Bruce Marler for around $225 on Day 5 (unless it was a $450 domain, in which case it would be $600.)
CantineFerrari.wine – Ferrari F.lli Lunelli S.p.A.
This is one of the eight domains mentioned above, I believe this is one of their labels.
Collect.wine – WorldWide Media, Inc
This confused me when I first saw it but once I Googled “collect wine” I realized what I was missing, the concept of building up a wine collection or wine cellar. This is where a lot of ad spend is focused, and where I spent most of my wine dollars. In an industry where most wine purchases are discretionary and demand is elastic, collecting wine is highly valued because purchases does not depend on immediate or short term consumption, and so this market can be unlimited in budget.
Collecting.wine – WorldWide Media, Inc
Where Collect.wine is a great name for a storefront, or commercial service that facilitates buying wine, Collecting.wine might work better as an informational website. I think the two work really well together, one as a service and the other as a forum or blog. What I like about this sort of website pairing is that the blog or forum might prove better at converting customers as well as growing the scope of PPC terms and other advertising keywords that can be targeted.
Com.wine – Privacy
An excellent pickup. With retail / reseller success of third level domains like .US.COM, allowing third level registrations could generate significant revenue, if wineries decide to register winery.com.wine to defend their existing .COM names.
ConsorzioAsti.wine – Consorzio per la tutela dell’Asti
Same registrant as above, the regional organization in Italy. By my math they picked up a total of 12 .WINE domains during the EAP, a significant effort for such an organization.
Cooking.wine – b52 media
This is a very flexible domain and a great buy at $550. It could be used for recipes, food/wine pairing, as well as the generic term for wine used for cooking.
CoyoteMoon.wine – Coyote Moon Winery
Coyote Moon Winery has been fighting an uphill battle with regard to domain names. They were late to the party and were not able to register CoyoteMoon.com, so they are making up for it with an a forward-looking campaign to defend their brand in future registrations. In an interesting twist, they passed on the opportunity to register CoyoteMoon.vin, preferring the English variant. They also passed on the opportunity to register Coyote.wine and Moon.wine, of which only the latter was taken after general availability.
Dr.wine – Privacy
There are a number of entities that use “Dr. Wine” or “Doctor Wine” for both online and brick and mortar businesses. This should be a quick flip with no shortage of potential buyers.
Enate.wine – Azagra Patentes y Marcas
This was probably registered on behalf of Enate Winery by a patent lawyer in Spain.
Ice.wine – WorldWide Media, Inc
This is probably one of the ten best domains that were available to be registered. The strength comes from the category-killer nature, being the absolutely best URL for ice wine. The website could be used for information, sales, or a directory of ice wine producers.
Marketing.wine – Andrew Naylor
I’ve read just about every wine marketing textbook in print and I feel like this is the area of the wine business that I feel most comfortable. I liked this domain because the language worked naturally, as in “we’re marketing wine in California.” I also was able to pick up Ad.wine, Ads.wine, Advertising.wine, but Marketing.wine was the most important to me.
Rating.wine – WorldWide Media, Inc
This is definitely a premium domain. It works as a keyword, as well as a natural language “I like rating wine.” Also, ratings.wine is a reserved domain, so rating.wine was the best wine ratings domain available during the landrush. Wine ratings are a huge business because positive reviews are used to market wines, for example “Wine Spectator gave it 95 points.”
RealEstate.wine – Andrew Naylor
I registered this because of my portfolio of wine real estate domains. I probably could have waited to get this during general availability, but my principal competitor in this space has been very active in the new gTLDs. I felt the risk was too great and $500 too good to pass up.
RedRedWine.wine – Investco
I’m not sure if this was a typo, or if they meant to duplicate “wine” on purpose. I suspect this was meant to capture the song name by UB40, but I think RedRed.wine would have been the first choice, and was in fact subsequently registered by someone else for around $50 on the first day of general availability. Investco purchased many .WINE and .VIN domains, but this was the only generic in the bunch. I’ve reached out to Investco for details but have not heard back yet.
SingleEstate.wine – Todd Wingrowers Ltd
This is not a very common designation in the wine industry, where the more common variants are “Estate Bottled,” “Single Vineyard,” and “Estate Grown.” However, the trend of small-batch beer is threatening to take hold in the wine and spirits industries as well. This domain might be five years too early, but it could one day be a category killer. It was registered by Ara, a New Zealand winery. On their website, they define Single Estate Wine as:
“Made with grapes from one place, Ara single estate wine aims to deliver more surprise, more excitement and more enjoyment.”
Suedtirol.wine – Diego Mutinelli
Suedtirol is one of the DOC wine regions in Italy.
Sweet.wine – WorldWide Media, Inc
Studies have shown that the most desired wine attribute that consumers request is for a wine to be sweet. As with all of their registration, WWM is getting the cream of the crop.
Top.wine – Wu Linghui
This is one of my favorites from a branding standpoint. One of the metrics I used when deciding what .WINE domains to buy was how the email address would look in my inbox. Getting a message from email@example.com entices me to open it and creates a positive and confident brand. Also works well for top 10 lists, of which there are many in the wine industry.
Vivino.wine – Vivino
Vivino is a popular mobile app. They have a registered trademark already, so they could have saved $50 and a couple headaches by buying during the trademark sunrise.
Days 5 – 7
The final EAP period started on Day 5 and finished after Day 7. I thought the dawn of this EAP would be the most competitive because $150 is an affordable price where domain investors would buy in large numbers. There were 631 domains registered which generated the largest single-period revenues for the Donuts registry. I was able to pick up 20 myself including S.wine, T.wine, Travel.wine, Local.wine, and Expo.wine.
After the EAP concluded, the General Availability phase started off with just over 4,000 registrations. This was where I registered around 50 domains including Advertising.wine, Daily.wine, and Social.wine.
According to my calculations, the .WINE release generated the following revenues:
|EAP Day 1||4||$52,000|
|EAP Day 2||3||$9,000|
|EAP Day 3||20||$30,200|
|EAP Day 4||24||$14,925|
|EAP Days 5-7||631||$112,125|
|General Availability Day 1||4,259||$230,200|
|General Availability Days 2-25||2,243||$112,150|
In the end Donuts had a very successful launch and will have many years of positive cash flow as a reward for weathering the legal and political storm.