Allegrini 2018

WineChain: improvements reward companies and fine wines are looking at the art world

Independent platforms designed for great winemakers include NFT, quality protection and speculation looking towards Italy
WineChain: NFT e fine wine

Many volumes have been written about the relationship between wine and NFT, while over the last two years several more or less entrepreneurial initiatives have been generated. However, non-fungible tokens is a world that has yet to be discovered and fully understood. This is due to a fair amount of mistrust, mainly linked to “what has happened recently, when there has often been an excessive valuation of unrelated NFTs from real assets”, Nicola Munari, Business Development for Italy of WineChain, an independent platform designed for great winemakers, explained to WineNews. The platform was launched by Xavier Garambois, former vice president of Amazon Europe, Guillaume Jourdan, CEO of VitaBella in Paris, and Nicolas Mendiharat CEO of Palate Club in San Francisco, in April 2022, and it has already raised 6 million euros in funding. “Actually”, Munari continued, “everything is much simpler in our case. Instead of selling the actual, physical bottle, the wine producer on WineChain can make the sale directly to the collector or private buyer, who in turn, instead of buying the physical bottle buys an NFT (wiNeFT is the official name of an NFT on WineChain, ed.). The NFT is the actual purchase receipt, registered on the blockchain and consequently, impossible to counterfeit, and obviously linked to a physical bottle”.
NFT, consequently, are directly linked to a physical asset: the bottle of wine. This is the best guarantee of transparency in a transaction that boasts quality protection as one of its cornerstones, and is conserved in the best possible way — in the winery.
“Many high quality wines, especially those from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Montalcino, Barolo and Bolgheri, have a vocation for aging and improving over time. This means that we do not buy the bottle of wine to drink it immediately. Moreover, thinking more profoundly about it, there is really no reason to move the bottle as soon as it is bought. This is the first advantage of WineChain; in other words, the bottle remains in the winery, and the purchase takes place via a token. After a few years that the bottle has continued to rest in absolute perfect storage conditions, ant it has not been exposed to changes in temperature or light, if I then decide to sell it, I have the possibility to do so by reselling the NFT to anyone in the world, and most likely my bottle will have acquired value, as happens with all fine wines” .
At first glance, there seems to be really nothing too different from what happens on many platforms dedicated to the secondary market of fine wines. This, however, is not the case, because one of the features of WineChain is the importance of the wine companies which improve the value of the bottle, and “for which the producer receives a royalty, and this is the second advantage. It is by no means an obvious conclusion at the current state of things, but we do think it is legitimate. Behind every bottle of excellent wine there has been years, if not decades, and sometimes generations, of work, as well as the fact that a part of the value of bottle returns to its legitimate owner. It is, instead, surprising, that now most of the value, including financial, is absorbed by the markets and speculation, and very little returns directly to the winery”, Munari continued.
Returning to the quality of bottle conservation, “it is important to emphasize that it will not move until, as they say in jargon, the NFT is “ burned". And, at that moment, it is sent to the final consumer. The possibility of transferring the bottled quality as faithfully as possible from the winery to the consumer is a very important element. On the one hand, the margin of speculation is less, while on the other hand the quality of conservation, especially compared to bottles that go around the world over and over again, will be definitely higher, guaranteeing a different value to the bottle itself”, WineChain's Business Development for Italy, emphasized.
After analyzing the pillars on which WineChain rests, we then shift the focus to the next step, that is to the market it is destined for, which Munari identified in two different communities. “On one hand, there are the wine lovers, and therefore the community of wine lovers and collectors. On the other, there is a new audience that comes from the NFT world, of technology, which perhaps has never heard of Barolo or Montalcino, an ecosystem that wine has barely touched and has no direct relationship with. The advantage of this model, especially among the new generations, is precisely the possibility of creating a bridge with groups and communities that today have no connection with wine. They are often linked to the art world, which also includes some wines, capable of representing a territory, a vintage and a family that often produce very limited editions and unreproducible vintages. Just as there is the gastronomic art of great chefs, there is also the art of winemaking, and the link between the communities that revolve around the art and wine worlds is another aspect that WineChain will help foster”.
The almost natural bond, but that has yet to be built, is found in the extraordinary stories that wine narrates, also in Italy. “It is absolutely true that wines should be drunk, but there are stories, and Italy has a wealth of them, which are very moving. We therefore must learn to restore and enhance the cultural and artistic value they represent for their territory and beyond, alongside the wine product. Giving visibility to these stories, which millions of people around the world have never heard, even through using new methods, such as NFTs, is a fundamental step to adequately improve the unique products and traditions that make our history and our uniqueness. WineChain”, Nicola Munari concluded, “is now at the crossroads of a triple evolution: technical, regarding conservation, distribution and traceability; cultural, through a transition from a food and culinary vision to an artistic vision of wine, and generational, because it is a project that will seat two or three generations of producers around a table”.

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