Bill Newlands

Bill Newlands knows a thing or two about wine. Formerly president and chief executive of Domaine Chandon for Moet Hennessy Chandon Estates, Newlands is president and CEO of Wine.

Bill Newlands knows a thing or two about wine. Formerly president and chief executive of Domaine Chandon for Moet Hennessy Chandon Estates, Newlands is president and CEO of Wine.com, a new portal for wine lovers formed last week by the merger of wine purveyor VirtualVineyard.com and content site Wine.com. Newlands spoke with Silicon Valley Bureau Chief Connie Guglielmo.

What was wrong with the name VirtualVineyard.com?

We think VirtualVineyard.com is a great name. But as we take our brand and evolve into a portal for all things wine, Wine.com suddenly becomes the perfect name to take around the world. It translates into everything. There's no confusion about what you'll find.

Did you really spend over $3.3 million to buy the Wine.com name?

That number was total conjecture on the part of reporters. As part of our agreement, we agreed not to comment on the price.

What is a wine portal?

VirtualVineyard.com stood for demystifying wine. The tone and style will stay the same. The idea of the portal will broaden that. We're adding content, community, auctions - all of those things will now be available in addition to our e-commerce site.

Which wine do you prefer?

If I was forced to choose only one varietal, it would be red Zinfandel. I love the fruit in the wine.

What keeps you awake at night?

The thing I look forward to and keeps me awake at night is thinking about the opportunity . . . to see the wine business excel in the Internet space. We in the wine industry have been behind the times making the Internet space an accessible space to wine buyers . . . both novices and aficionados.

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