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 Cruvee.com 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.