Thursday, December 17, 2009

Owning Information

Getting basic information about local wineries can be remarkably difficult. While larger companies can afford to employ marketing and PR professionals, most of the small producers are family operations run by people with full time day jobs. When I've contacted wineries for more details I've frequently not had my calls returned, or the questions have been treated with suspicion. Why is this guy asking me questions about how many acres I have planted?

At the same time, a growing number of bloggers are writing about wine. In the absence of verifiable facts people may quote whatever sources they can find. Even the official statistics are far from accurate, as I've pointed out in the past. And with a dearth of usable label and logo artwork available we simply make our own, taking snapshots of bottles.

The team at led by Evan Cover think they have a solution to this. Their system is called OwnIT and aims to provide a common repository for all wineries to publish information about their wines and wineries. Application developers will be able to access the database via an API and bloggers will be able to reference it via hyperlinks. They are also working with other databases such as CellarTracker and Vinfolio.

The system will be free to both wineries and consumers of the data - Cruvee hope that this will raise awareness and increase subscription to their social media monitoring service.

Now all this sounds great, but until it reaches a critical mass it won't be particularly useful. It's clearly attractive to larger wineries who want to protect their brand image, but for smaller wineries who care less about branding and more about getting the wine to their regular customers it's likely to be way down the priority list. Hopefully the various local trade associations will help out here.

The system will be opened to the public early next year. At that time we'll see whether it's achieved sufficient traction to be a useful tool or whether it's just another good idea in theory.


Jim Preston said...

I started a couple of years ago at the urging of dozens of vintners with small wineries. Winery staff has complete access to and control of their extensive profile info.

Few will use the system and we have to forage for the data. This makes the information very expensive.

We cover 20 California wine regions for now but could expand.

I was going to create an API for other sites to use the info but with so few wineries willing to maintain their data I dropped the idea. We continue to collect the data from winery visits and their Websites and our profiles are the most informative anywhere.

These profiles and our maps, the only accurate winery maps available anywhere, are also available in our iPhone app Winery Quest.

I wish the Own It folks well.

- Jim Preston

Ev said...

Thank you very much for the post about OwnIT as well as the nice comments from Jim.

We (Cruvee) have only taken a leadership role to help the both the wineries and the technology companies within this industry. It has been something that the indsutry has been asking to have for years.

With that said, we recognize that it will take a "village" of supporters (wineries and tech) to make this successful but at the end of the day it is the consumer that will benefit the most from the consistency of the wineries messages, which leads to brand loyalty.

The data will also be published to respective mobile applications, social networking sites, marketing agents, retail stores and more; which makes this a tremendous value for the wineries to be a part of.

We are excited about this movement and with the tremendous support that we have already received from both wineries and tech companies we know that this will surely be a momentous year for this industry.

Please note that this is less about Cruvee and more about changing the way wine is represented online, that is why decided that this should be free.

Thank you again for the great post!