Home Business Why California’s North Coast Winemakers Are Diving into Web3

Why California’s North Coast Winemakers Are Diving into Web3


When the pandemic shut down tasting rooms, many wine industry players — who weren’t historically at the forefront of high-tech adoption — decided to keep sales to customers through video conferencing. , e-commerce and digital marketing

Today, Web3 technology has the promise, pioneers say, of delivering deeper engagement with a new generation of consumers who have learned to extend their desires and purchases through their screens.

Winemakers that have ventured into Web3, also known as Web 3.0, over the past year include Treasury Wine Estates and Constellation Brands, offering non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, connected to their luxury brands Penfolds and Robert Mondavi, respectively. The Treasury gave away 300 bottles of Penfolds via tokens sold on BlockBar, a new NFT marketplace for wine and spirits brands.

Constellation has minted 1,966 real unique bottles of its Robert Mondavi x Bernardaud NFT Collection wines available upon acquisition of associated NFT, and the real bottles are expected to be available in September.

And now a handful of other North Coast companies are taking their first steps into the even more uncharted world of Web3.

Cuvee Collectivethe work of San Francisco startup Libation Labs, hit the market Wednesday with NFT’s first offering, which will give buyers – known as coiners – VIP access to exclusive wine deals and experiences from 25 establishments wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties, including Robert Craig Winery, Goosecross, Massican, Schug Winery and Arcudi Wines.

The company had an opening day goal of selling 1,000 of its 4,000 Collector NFTs and hitting that mark at $179 each, according to CEO Andrew Allison. This NFT grants the holder access to all future “drops” 24 hours before they open to the public, as well as other digital benefits such as customer service priority, private Discord forum access, and status. vote in the Cuvee Collective.

Some have compared the role of NFTs in the world of wine to a better way to manage how in-demand North Coast wines are currently distributed among those who want to buy them.

Traditionally, winemakers with such cult status have a mailing list. Those on the list have the first opportunities to purchase each wine release. When members leave the list, those on the waitlist may be moved up. Early adopters of Web3 see NFTs as a way to sell these places online, and the blockchain digital ledger will note the benefits that have been granted to each owner.

“The core of Web3 is asset ownership, and we really believe that with blockchain technology, allocation spacing should be an asset, not a liability,” said Allison, who grew up in Napa Valley and graduated from Sonoma State University with an undergraduate degree in wine. finance. “There shouldn’t be three takes and you’re out. It should be your seat, and your seat can be occupied by the person you sell it to.

In Calistoga, winemaker Mario Sculatti has teamed up with “The Wizard of SoHo,” the world-famous moniker of a former Wall Street anonymous and now the decentralized finance mastermind behind the launch of some high-profile digital tokens. One was Azukis, which grossed $300 million in just one month earlier this year, according to Vanguard Media.

Sculatti and “The Wizard” met a few years ago while the latter was building his collection of Napa Valley wines. This year they launched Wine Evinco DAO, starting with an offer of 5,555 NFTs that can be ‘cellared’ – or kept – in the owner’s digital wallet to ‘unlock’ more perks over time, like exclusive tastings in the tasting room Evinco, which is also the Vault Wines salon in Calistoga that Sculatti previously opened. Sculatti created its own brands through alternate ownership licenses at existing wineries and agreements or leases on multiple Napa Valley vineyards.

“What’s exciting about Web3 is this democratization of your community’s desires that you’ve built,” Sculatti said. Evinco has a base of around 1,000 members of its discussion forum on the Discord platform, originally the digital hangout for video gamers, but it’s increasingly where Web3 aficionados share ideas, critiques and concerns related to their favorite digital assets.

Around 1,400 of Evinco’s NFTs have been minted so far, raising around $500,000 for the pot of funds that token owners can ultimately vote on how they will be spent through Evinco’s decentralized self-governing structure. The cave. Options include investing in lower bottle prices for exclusive deals or purchasing an exclusive vineyard with a domain for events.

“This way of having autonomy in business is not going away,” Sculatti said. “Web3 is not about art and cryptocurrency, but about the democratization of this business.”

On the Napa County side of the Carneros wine country, Web2 wine pioneer David Harmon, who founded Wine.com in the early days of e-commerce in the late 1990s, is part of a Napa-based company called NFT Wine Club. Although there is no launch date yet as the company is still developing its own blockchain, one of the goals is to offer NFTs that would be virtual versions of the 3,600 real vines that Harmon maintains and sells for a year at a time in its own Napa vineyard. company.

“I thought NFTs were a pyramid scheme, but when I saw Mondavi getting into it, I decided to look into it,” Harmon said. “When I saw a friend selling an NFT for $5,000, I realized it was like a baseball card or a stock.”

But some big fans of digital marketing for the wine industry and early adopters of the technology are skeptical whether Web3 is ready for prime time.

Paul Mabray, a longtime advocate for better customer data analytics in the industry and now CEO of wine news startup Pix, is not in favor of blockchain technology for the wine industry.

“We’re trying to embed a buzzword into a use case,” Mabray said. “People claim to do it with clubs, but there is a very small audience that understands it. It’s fine to put a tradable good in a wine club, but first you need to make sure the perks are usable. There’s a lot of work to be done with better customer service first.

Jeff Quackenbush covers wine, construction and real estate. Before joining the Business Journal in 1999, he wrote for Bay City News Service in San Francisco. Contact him at jquackenbush@busjrnl.com or 707-521-4256.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here