WiV Technology is slowly unveiling its vision for the future of wine. Co-founders Tommy Nordam Jensen and Håkon Harberg sat down to discuss the company’s short, medium and long-term approach.
Where does WiV sit within the wine sector?
We are approaching the wine sector from both directions. On the one hand, we want our platform to be able to host wines from every region of the world, helping producers get their wine to an audience far beyond the gates of their vineyards. At the same time, we want to make our platform as visible as possible, so that people from every background, with every investment strategy, can include fine wine in their portfolio. We want to work with producers to help people understand what makes each wine unique and help them appreciate wine as an investment tool.
Wine is a superb investment product, and over the last twenty years has held its value exceptionally well in comparison with most other asset classes. But wine is more than just an asset class. Producing fine wine is an art form that reflects the skill of the producer as well as all the other factors that go into producing a superb wine. We want investors to understand both aspects.
What is the strategy for this year?
Our goal this year is to launch wines from regions all over the world, curating wine and talking to experts to help vineyards grow their presence and weather the pandemic’s challenges.
Covid-19 has created a unique set of circumstances for the wine industry at the worst possible time. Many, many smaller producers were already struggling to remain economically viable, not because their wine wasn’t superb, but because they lacked a cost-effective way of distributing their vintages beyond their immediate region.
The lockdowns have removed both the restaurant trade and trade passing a vineyard’s gates, creating a significant gap in demand that many have struggled to fill.
Building a reliable, efficient distribution network takes a great deal of time and commitment, and most wine producers want to be able to focus their efforts on producing wine. The WiV approach creates an opportunity for wine producers to put their vintages in front of a global audience with relatively little effort.
What do you intend to do moving forward?
This year has been about building trust. Wine production can be a conservative business, so we have been putting a few bottles out on selected networks to prove that we have a viable platform that genuinely offers vineyards and traders access to a global market for fine wine.
Our plan for the next few months is to extend WiV’s offering to any network where we feel there could be demand. Our platform’s underlying technology is very flexible, so it is relatively easy for us to integrate with any network where we feel that there could be a market.
To an extent, we have to be selective because at this point there are several chains being set up and we need to make sure that there is a market for wine before we commit to having a presence. At the same time though, we want to help educate potential investors, so we will put the work in to build markets where we think it is appropriate.
How do you plan to support vineyards in the longer term?
As I say, some vineyards have found themselves in a precarious financial position over the last few years, and it’s been made worse by the pandemic. We plan to offer support by helping with the financial gap between harvest and payment. It can take vineyards more than three years between harvesting the grape and being paid for wine, and traditional financing strategies can be exceptionally time consuming to put in place. Many vineyards struggle to get any support at all, despite the proven quality of their wine.
In the longer term, we want to be able to support vineyards by using our collateral to bring in finance. It is an approach that will enable them to invest in their operations and produce exceptional wine without having to worry about how they will support themselves during the wine production process. Making fine wine is incredibly hard work and we want to become a credible market participant that helps bring liquidity to vineyards.
We have to be honest, we can’t change the market overnight, and online fine wine sales currently represent less than 5% of the market. But we believe this number will increase rapidly over the next few years. We are taking it step by step, but this is a stable market and great way for investors to spread risk and we really believe that we can help secure the future of many fine wines.
WiV Technology is a blockchain-based unique asset technology designed for wine producers and merchants. With offices in London, Oslo and Singapore, the WiV blockchain technology issues digital tokens to create a secure global asset register and decentralised financial marketplace for fine wine and spirits. For further information, go to www.wiv.io