NFC Brings ConnectedBottle Solution to Winery

By Claire Swedberg

Pinea Wine's latest vintage comes with an NFC feature from EVRYTHNG, using content from Taylor Wilco, that helps wine enthusiasts confirm the authenticity of its high-value products, as well as gain access to information about the vintage, how the wine was made and related content.

Wine makers Hugo T. Del Pozzo and Vicente Pliego have opened a winery that brings a limited supply of high-quality wines to a select audience. Pinea wants to provide more than just a good glass of wine, they say—the company hopes to offer an experience that will keep bringing customers back.

To accomplish this goal (in addition to making good wine), the company deployed a system called ConnectedBottle, which consists of a Near Field Communication (NFC) tag on each bottle and an app featuring content that enables users to tap their smartphone near the bottle, confirm that it is authentic and engage with information about the wine, including where and how it was produced.

Cofounders Vicente Pliego (left) and Hugo T. Del Pozzo

The ConnectedBottle experience, provided by Internet of Things (IoT) software company EVRYTHNG, uses an NFC tag with a Smartrac Circus inlay, and features digital content from Taylor Wilco. Each tag is encoded with a unique, serialized ID number to connect every bottle to the Internet with EVRYTHNG digital identities.

"We're aiming really, really high, for our winery," Del Pozzo says. Pinea's vineyards offer what he calls some of the best grapes, and while wine preferences are a personal choice, he adds, "We want people to experience an incredible amount of joy when they drink our wine."

For example, grapes at Pinea's Ribera del Duero vineyard are selected, cut and de-stemmed by hand. The winery won a gold medal at the 2019 International Wine Challenge and the winemaker was recognized by Wine Spectator magazine as one of Spain's "brightest young wine-making stars." Its vintages are a limited production of 12,000 bottles, with a demand that exceeds supply. The bottles are priced typically at $150 apiece, but that price is expected to rise. As the value of products like wine goes up, Del Pozzo says, piracy increases as well.

But beyond proving authenticity is the value of sharing information with wine enthusiasts. Traditionally, people must look up information about a winery on the Internet, and that information can be limited. Pinea wants to be able to connect with those who have experienced their wine, by offering detailed content that leads them to become regular customers of its products. The solution is EVRYTHNG's NFC-based system, which enables users to automatically access that content. With the system, Pinea Wine is striving to build brand loyalty through continuous digital dialog with customers.

When it comes to authentication, the technology helps potential buyers, retailers and other users ensure that they don't have a counterfeit product. Each bottle comes with a paper hanging label that contains printed information instructing consumers to tap their phone on the ConnectedBottle icon on the bottle's back label. Once they do so, the phone's built-in NFC reader captures the unique ID number and forwards that information to the EVRYTHNG software platform, which displays content confirming the wine's authenticity. If the phone provides no such response, the bottle could be a counterfeit.

If someone were able to counterfeit the label itself, the system could still detect a problem, according to Judy Moon, EVRYTHNG's sales VP. The software platform would identify if a tag read came from an area with no distribution, she explains, adding that users can further engage with the product as well. EVRYTHNG both validates product authenticity and identifies trade abnormalities, Del Pozzo states, such as parallel markets. "Through the same tag, Pinea Wine can connect and engage consumers with contextual, personalized experiences."

When a wine enthusiast taps his or her iOS- or Android-based mobile phone against the tag, the phone opens a site that asks the user to confirm he or she is 21 years of age or older. The site then provides information about the wine, such as how many kilometers the bottle has traveled from the vineyard, as well as how the product was made. "All these things, at the end of the day, add up to why the wine tastes the way it does," Del Pozzo says. It could also link a user directly with Pinea's website.

The system could benefit potential buyers at a store, but it also could be used by those drinking the wine for the first time. For instance, if a bottle were being served at a restaurant, diners could learn more about the wine at their table. "The vision is to provide significantly more unique digital media for the customers," Del Pozzo explains.

Additionally, the solution will offer consumers the ability to create a long-term connection with Pinea. They may be invited to join the wine club, for instance. If they provide their e-mail address, he says, "then we can communicate information with them."

Approximately 50 percent of the wine has been allocated to the United States, with 40 percent slated for the European Union and 10 percent sold in Mexico. The wine is currently being sold in a handful of U.S. states, as well as in Spain. The company began tagging some of its bottles this year.

EVYRYTHNG supplies consumers with automatic (consent-based) access to content, based on NFC tag taps, while also providing data enabling analytics about where and how often consumers are engaging with bottles. "EVRYTHNGS's value proposition is to make every product active, intelligent and trackable so brands can connect directly with consumers through dynamic personalized experiences," Moon says. Beyond consumer engagement, she adds, "Every time there's an interaction, we collect that data on our platform for brands to use in shaping informed marketing programs"

That information can then be used to improve marketing or logistics. Pinea Wine can add new apps once a product is tagged. Eventually, Moon says, the technology could provide supply chain visibility. "Once you digitize the product," she states, "you can follow it through the life cycle." That means bottle tags could be read by parties that receive or ship bottles, thereby creating a record of where each product was located, as well as when this occurred.

In the future, Moon predicts this information could be linked to temperature data in order to ensure that the wine is always stored at the optimal temperature. Moreover, the analytic details could include such information as what content consumers select when they use the system, thus enabling the company to identify which content resonates most with wine drinkers.

Images: Pinea