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Amazon.com Invests in WineShopper.com

Amazon.com Tuesday continued its string of e-commerce investments by acquiring a 45 percent stake in WineShopper.com for $30 million.

The Napa, Calif.-based Internet start up, which launched Tuesday, will offer consumers access to the largest selection of wines available anywhere. Though currently only serving clients in Florida, the company plans to serve 70 to 80 percent of the United States by Christmas.

R. Michael Mondavi, president and chief executive officer of Robert Mondavi Corp. (MOND) and one of the industry's most respected leaders, sits on the company's board of directors.

"The Internet represents a tremendous opportunity to effectively serve the $100 billion global wine market -- it allows us to turn a buying experience that is information-deficient and intimidating in the physical world into a very information rich, satisfying shopping experience," Peter Sisson, WineShopper.com founder and chief executive officer.

The funding comes a day after Amazon.com (AMZN) launched its health and beauty site in cooperation with drugstore.com (DSCM).

The deal with WineShopper.com mirrors the drugstore.com agreement to an extent, in that the juggernaut recently invested an $30 million in both businesses. The bookseller put its second investment in drugstore.com last January amid a string of stakes in Kozmo.com, Audible (ADBL) and Living.com. The major difference is that drugstore.com's brand became a permanent part of the Amazon.com architecture.

WineShopper.com has developed a network of valuable content partnerships, including Wine Spectator, WineToday.com, The New York Times on the Web, and Boston.com, Wine & Spirits, Food & Wine and Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine. Site visitors will be able to access reviews, ratings and editorial material from these and other leading content partners.