Cofounded by Xavier Garambois, the former vice-president of EU retail at Amazon, Winechain.co is set to go live by the end of this year with its first ‘wiNeFT’ offering – its term for a fine wine linked to a non-fungible token (NFT).
There has been a growing amount of innovation around NFTs in the wine world, from limited-edition winery offers to the ways in which blockchain technology could provide a digital guarantee of ownership history.
Winechain said its goal is ‘to build dynamic and interactive relations between prestigious estates and demanding consumers with a passion for wine’. It said it has raised more than $1m in backing from wine lovers and prestigious wine estates so far.
Wineries will be able to choose which wines they sell via the marketplace, while forging direct links with collectors in the community, the group said.
Customers will be able to access rare wines, with guarantees of authenticity, and bottles will be stored at a dedicated Winechain facility until being shipped, it said. Collectors will also be able to sell certain wine NFTs if they wish to, it added.
‘Marked interest from many estates’
Garambois, who was Amazon’s most senior executive in Europe prior to his departure from the online retail giant at the end of 2020, said the platform uses blockchain and ‘Web3’ technology, which he predicted would become essential tools for the big names in wine.
He told Decanter that Winechain will only source wines direct from vineyards. He declined to name specific estates that will be working with the group at this stage.
‘The main reason is that we are a few months from launch and we want to keep building that list before communicating. But I can confirm a marked interest from many estates, all over Europe.’
Interest has grown as wine estates realise ‘the opportunity of building a great direct-to consumer channel that they’ll control, and as they understand that we are serious in building first class storage and shipping operations’, he added.
Winechain doesn’t plan to charge a fee to join its community, he said.
The other cofounders are Guillaume Jourdan, who is CEO of the Vitabella communications consultancy, and Nicolas Mendiharat, founder and CEO of the San Francisco Palate Club.
The world of fine wine collecting has seen a number of new initiatives recently.
Crurated, a new fine wine members’ club founded by Dubai-based Google director Alfonso de Gaetano, said earlier this year it had raised €3m to expand its business, which includes sourcing wines direct from leading estates and offering them to its community in a sealed bid process.