NAPA -- The online community for winemakers and drinkers, NakedWines.com, has added a second brick-and-mortar store in the heart of California wine country.

NakedWines.com will officially launch a wine store and tasting room Thursday at 1141 First St. in Napa. It is the newest retail location for the company, which started in 2008 as a crowdfunding website where wine enthusiasts could invest in startup or struggling winemakers around the world. The site has about 150,000 investors who contribute $40 a month to support entrepreneurs from California to Spain, Argentina and Australia. In return, investors can buy cases of wine for about half price.

With the new Napa store the company continues to move away from its online-only model, which supported a lively e-commerce business while avoiding the costs brick-and-mortar real estate. But CEO Rowan Gormley said the website prohibited the sensory experience many wine enthusiasts are seeking.

"The problem with most online retailers is it's a very transactional experience," he said. "You can't see the product, you can't smell the product. Bringing people in (to a store) to try the wine is what brings it all to life."

The retail location will allow NakedWines.com investors to meet the winemakers they pay every month, "and start understanding the difference they have made in the winemaker's life," Gormley said. Many of the winemakers start with little capital, and most of the money they receive through NakedWines.com goes to purchasing grapes and barrels -- Gormley said the money can't be used to buy land or assets.

"We're really funding the stuff that goes inside the bottle," he said.

NakedWines.com has invested $50 million in about 130 winemakers. About 40 of those are in the U.S., with the majority in California.

Vinters from around the world will visit the Napa shop to share their wines, Gormley said, and he will also invite local California winemakers who are not funded by NakedWines.com to visit and share their wine.

If the Napa store goes well, Gormley said he plans to open a third retail location in San Francisco. The company also has a store, tasting lounge and small winery in Sonoma.

The opening party at the Napa store is Thursday, 6-9 p.m., featuring winemakers from Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Napa and St. Helena.

Contact Heather Somerville at 510-208-6413. Follow her at Twitter.com/heathersomervil.