Club dVIN, which launched earlier this year as a global NFT wine club, said members will be given the chance to sign up for a series of trips to Bhutan from late July to late September 2023.
Those flying out will be able to ‘snip grapes’ and break ground on the Ser Kem Winery, alongside experiences like river rafting and visiting monasteries, Club dVIN said.
‘If you love wine and adventure, this is an unmatched opportunity to fill your cup with both while taking in the breathtaking beauty of Bhutan,’ said David Garrett, co-founder of Club dVIN along with Behdad Shahsavari and Brian Feuer.
Its timing also marks a next step for a fledgling wine project in Bhutan, on the eastern edge of the Himalayas.
‘We started getting serious around 2017,’ said Michael Juergens, head of the Bhutan Wine Company, who has been instrumental in creating the vineyard project alongside the government and local partners.
Juergens, a principal with Deloitte based in Los Angeles but also a long-time wine lover and Master of Wine candidate, said he developed his idea for a vineyard project in Bhutan after visiting the country.
‘I was running marathons and adventure races around the world, had the opportunity to go to the Himalayas, saw how beautiful Bhutan was and just assumed there was wine there,’ he told Decanter on a call alongside Club dVIN’s Garrett and Shahsavari.
The project now has nine vineyards, ranging from 1500ft to 9,000ft (452m to 2,743m) in altitude, he said. ‘Six of them are in their fifth season, two of them are in their third and one of them we’re just planting right now,’ Juergens said.
A mix of international red and white wine grape varieties have been planted, partly to see what works, and the team has just imported ‘a couple of groups of hybrids’, said Juergens.
The list includes Petit Manseng due to its rain-tolerant character, he said, adding that the team is working on a way of practising organic viticulture in an area where summer monsoons can lead to mildew pressure.
Juergens said it was decided to let grapes fall this year and do a first proper harvest in 2023, when two of the vineyards spanning a combined 45 acres enter their fourth year.
Separately from the main harvest, there are also plans to produce a single barrel of wine from all grape varieties that probably won’t be particularly drinkable but could be a collector’s item. ‘Imagine having a bottle from the first barrel of wine ever made in France,’ he said.
Club dVIN said people joining the Bhutan trip will be able to earn new ‘tasting token’ NFTs, which may be used in future to secure allocations of Bhutan wine.
Several high-profile wineries have experimented with NFTs and wine, although it’s very early days.
Club dVIN said its ‘tasting tokens’ allow people to record and share experiences, such as when a particular bottle has been opened and where. ‘[They] are minted when bottles attached to a Club dVIN Digital Cork NFT are opened,’ the group said.
The ‘Digital Cork’ aspect provides a certificate of authenticity and proof of provenance, but Shahsavari, who has a background in wine and also management consulting, said the addition of tasting tokens help provide more of a ‘positive incentive’.
The concept is intended to enable wineries to connect more directly with collectors, as well as attract a new generation of consumers. Garrett said wineries could have more scope to reward collectors with tastings or estate visits, for example.
In June, NBA star Carmelo Anthony partnered with Club dVIN on a tasting token NFT to mark to the launch of his VII(N) – The Seventh Estate wine brand.
Club dVIN launched 4,000 NFT-backed memberships across two tiers in June, and Garrett said Club dVIN’s ‘Global Insider’ members will get priority access for the Bhutan trip next year.
Available via the ETH cryptocurrency, Global Insider membership was priced at 3ETH (currently equivalent to around $4,767). Genesis membership was 1.5ETH ($2,383). Club dVIN said 950 Genesis and 50 Global Insider memberships had been gifted to friends, family and founding members.