IBM (NYSE: IBM) and eProvenance, a company specializing in monitoring and analyzing wine shipment conditions, today announced the availability of VinAssure from eProvenance: a new, IBM blockchain-powered platform that offers a smarter and highly secured way to track wines as they move through distribution from vineyard to consumer. By encouraging transparency, accountability and the rapid exchange of data, VinAssure helps ensure the exacting methods of the world’s best winemakers are not undermined by supply chain errors, misinformation or improper conditions during transit. VinAssure is designed to give rise to a new wine industry ecosystem that provides consumers more information at their fingertips to help assure the wines they buy meet their expectations.
VinAssure runs on IBM Cloud and is built on IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply, which is designed to use advanced technologies including blockchain, AI and cloud to optimize outcomes for all participants. With VinAssure, this group includes wine producers, négociants, importers, transporters, distributors, restaurants and retailers – by helping increase traceability, efficiency and profitability in the wine supply chain through a permissioned, permanent and shared record of data.
The first member of VinAssure is De Maison Selections, a U.S. importer of responsibly-sourced wines, cider and spirits from independent producers in Spain and France. As VinAssure membership grows, supply chain members and consumers will be able to access information spanning from the vineyard through transport and delivery, which is validated and stored on the blockchain. Using existing identifiers, such as a QR code on the bottle, consumers can learn, for example, about the wine’s provenance and flavor profiles, or if it meets certification standards for organic, biodynamic or sustainability practices.
Other wine industry members intending to join VinAssure include Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, Export Division, the third-largest premium winery in the USA, and Maison Sichel, a Bordeaux-based négociant and winemaker for seven generations. The portfolios of these three companies can represent millions of bottles of wines moving through the global supply chain and available around the world.
VinAssure uses IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply, an innovative offering from IBM that enables organizations to rapidly build out their own sustainable blockchain-based ecosystem for improved supply chain operations, to promote transparency and collaboration and to create a permanent record of the history and lifecycle of physical and digital assets.
“We believe wine communicates a strong sense of the place and the culture of those who contributed to its creation. We honor our winemakers and their goods by protecting wines through temperature-controlled transport and storage from the cellar to our customers,” said André Tamers, owner of De Maison Selections. “We believe the future of the wine industry lies in verifiable provenance, transparency and traceability. VinAssure makes it possible for our distribution partners and end consumers to see, understand and appreciate what went into crafting the wines they buy and what it takes for us to maintain the wine’s quality from the vineyard to the glass.”
“No one wants to open a bottle of wine and discover it’s been cooked. When the supply chain fails to maintain proper temperature conditions, that’s precisely what can happen,” said Robin Grumman-Vogt, CEO of eProvenance. “VinAssure is designed to bring collaboration and clarity to an often-chaotic supply chain. The sensitivity of the product, the number of actors, the complex logistics challenges and a convoluted patchwork of regulations across the USA and from country to country, are all factors that play into the need for a wine industry ecosystem.”
The wine industry is complex and interconnected yet lacks the mechanisms to optimize its supply chains. There are also numerous and disparate regulations that a global industry ecosystem has the capacity to address.
“We craft ultra-premium wines from Washington, Oregon and California that fully reflect the unique growing conditions and individual winemaking practices of each estate. Our site-specific wines display unique and extraordinary character, so we want to assure those wines arrive in perfect condition whatever their destination around the globe,” said Peter Click, Vice President, International, Saint Michelle Wine Estates. “VinAssure can help us share this compelling story with our supply chain and with our consumers.”
“As a negociant and winemaker, Maison Sichel is fully committed to sustainable practices and pours every drop of skill and knowhow into its brands,” said Allan Sichel, Managing Director of Maison Sichel. “VinAssure will amplify our efforts by making them all the more visible to our industry partners and customers.”
eProvenance is an established wine industry technology innovator—its proprietary, scientifically-based algorithm determines if wine is still fresh or if quality may have been compromised, not just whether inappropriate temperatures have been encountered, and the resulting eProvenance Score (0-100) clearly indicates if there are any changes in wine quality. eProvenance temperature monitoring services and the eProvenance Score are an integral part of VinAssure, providing critical data on the quality of wine shipments from origin to end consumer.
“Blockchain is the ideal solution for bringing transparency to a supply chain as complicated as that of the wine industry, which involves numerous participants and where needs vary depending on the destination of the shipment,” according to Raj Rao, General Manager IBM Blockchain Platforms. “Having an immutable digital record of transactions and conditions simplifies process and represents the future of moving sensitive goods. It also provides the end consumer with greater information that the wine they purchased tastes as the winemaker intended and reflects the immense care that went into producing that wine.”