Twitter Pops Cork on New Venture

Startup still not looking to make money with latest venture

The folks at San Francisco-based Twitter are popping the cork on a new project Thursday.

The company behind the 140-character information-spreading phenomenon is getting into the wine business.

The microblogging site, which has soared to astronomical popularity and a $1 billion valuation in its short existence, will be making and selling its own brand, called Fledgling Wine.

The group teamed up with Crushpad, another San Francisco startup, for the project. Proceeds from the sales will go to the nonprofit group Room to Read.

Twitter, it should be noted, might as well be a nonprofit itself: Despite raising tens of millions of dollars in venture capital, it has yet to unveil a viable plan for charging users or businesses.

The wine, on the other hand, won't go for free. Bottles of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will cost $20, $5 of which will go to the nonprofit group.

Here's how Twitter cofounders Biz Stone and Ev Williams served up the news:

The Fledgling Initiative embodies two things that are at the core of Twitter's mission: providing access to information and highlighting the power of open communication to bring about positive change. This initiative is just one piece of that approach. Take part in this mission and pre-buy our limited bottles of the wine. You can follow along with our wine-making activities on Twitter and at some points even participate in its creation. The efforts of Room to Read will benefit literacy, and in doing so they'll allow Twitter to grow. Because if you can't read you can't Tweet!

The project began after a few Twitter employees got involved with Crushpad, a facility that allows enthusiasts to create their own barrels of wine without having to own a vineyard. Crushpad, which like Twitter and Room to Read is based in San Francisco, provides grapes, equipment, expertise, storage and bottling. Clients get as involved as they want to, checking in on their wines physically or through Internet messages and videos.

"We're excited,"Room to Read founder John Wood told the Associated Press. "Our team and their team together making wine, it's a way to have a lot of fun and it's a way to create a lot of libraries at the same time."

Even though they announced the project today, it's still in the aging process. The first wine won't actuaally be bottled until August 2010.

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