Robert Mondavi Winery is the latest winery to join the NFT craze and its upcoming launch could be pivotal in determining if and how the rest of the wine industry will adopt cryptocurrency in the future.
Consisting of a unique generative art piece that’s also attached to future experiences at the winery, Mondavi’s NFTs will accompany 1,966 1.5-litre porcelain wine bottles created in partnership with Bernardaud, the renowned French porcelain house that dates back to 1863. The porcelain bottles are meant to double as collective art pieces, which can also be used as decanters after consumption.
Mondavi is one of the largest and more significant wineries to enter the cryptocurrency space and this launch is also the most large-scale; until now, the majority of experimentation on the blockchain has been limited releases from auction houses, retailers, and small-production wineries. This will be the biggest test of how crypto and wine can intertwine yet and could be the turning point that compels other large brands to follow suit.
Partner company Constellation Brands went as far as to bring on Gary Vaynerchuk, co-founder of Empathy Wines (also owned by Constellation) and one of the most trusted authorities in the NFT space, as an advisor for the project.
‘This is on the forefront of how we think, in the future, luxury wine is going to be distributed, especially to fine wine collectors,’ said Robert Hanson, president of wine & spirits at Constellation Brands.
‘We feel that the industry has relied on a lot of historical practices, which need to be challenged and transformed to make the wine category more relevant for future consumers,’ he added.
‘[Blockchain technology] allows consumers to understand a full life cycle of the products they’re purchasing, everything from how they were developed to the impact of the supply chain to issues around sustainability to authentication.’
The special-edition collection, called MCMLXVI (translating to 1966, the year Mondavi was founded), consists of three 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines from Mondavi’s famed To Kalon heritage vineyard and produced by three notable Napa Valley winemakers. The trio of winemakers — Mondavi’s Geneviève Janssens, along with consultants Thomas Rivers Brown and Andy Erickson — were also named to the newly formed Robert Mondavi Technical Wine Council, which will adopt a collaborative approach to winemaking at Mondavi moving forward.
This is all part of a planned, multi-year transformation of the winery that includes a renovation of the iconic winery and visitor center in Napa Valley. Hanson admitted that the brand has “atrophied a bit” in recent years and the intention is to both modernize Mondavi and restore it to its heyday as a leader in innovation and one of Napa Valley’s most premium wineries.
Priced at a lofty $3,500 each, these porcelain, tech-relevant bottles are a start.
They will be available for purchase with USD or Ether (ETH) cryptocurrency, on 15 December. Buyers will receive their NFT upon purchase and the bottles will ship in September 2022.
An NFT, which stands for “non-fungible token,” is a unique digital item (like an image, video, or song) that cannot be duplicated. NFT purchases are also recorded on the extremely secure and supposedly unhackable blockchain, providing undisputable ownership.
Some believe NFTs are the future of wine collecting because of their potential to stop counterfeiting — a $3bn industry — and thus outside of entertainment, bragging rights, and potential resale value, the greatest benefit of NFTs for wine consumers is provenance.