Expect more care for your prestigious wine

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If you're like me, you treat your wine with good care. Extremely good care: I have a set of ageing wine-cellars with controlled temperature and humidity and with limited vibration, I pay attention to eventual smell, etc. This is not - I hope - out of being a wine-psycho but because I have purchased bottles that I want to last for many years and I'm somehow enjoying them all along their ageing phase, waiting for the moment I'll open them on special occasions with family or friends with whom we'll discuss how interesting these bottles are and what a good idea it was to buy them and treat them well.

As many wine-lovers, I have also bought quite a few bottles from special years en primeur and had them delivered to my place a few months or years later. It was evident for me that the various Chateaux would pay particular attention that their own wines were handled and transported with great attention all the way to the final customer in order to protect and enhance their brands. Well, if you're like me, think again.

How wine is currently being transported

I was in Verona a few weeks ago and attended Vinitaly - a great experience to discover Italian wines - and I took the opportunity to discuss with a few wine producers and transportation providers explicitly specializing in wine transportation (one was publicizing "40% of revenue out of wine transportation"). My apparently dumb question was "how do you guarantee that your wine is handled properly"? In an IoT world with a wide variety of cheap sensors available and with optimized supply chains, I was expecting answers like:

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- "All our shipments are controlled in temperature and humidity"

- "We offer a dedicated service to our customers and deliver on request the temperature/humidity diagrams of the transportation"

- "We work with specialized transportation providers that certify the transportation conditions."

Well, think again.

Excluding a few exceptions, the answers were more like "responsibility lies with the transportation provider" (when speaking to a wine producer) and "nobody cares" (when speaking to a transportation provider). What? "Nobody cares"? I care! The wine producers should care! You work hard to get a good product on the market then when it reaches the final customer it may have been compromised because of poor transportation? Companies perfectly know how to transport perishable and "delicate" good; what's the effort of extending this visibility to the final customer?

Guaranteeing quality via a simple monitoring service

The service could be as simple as:

  1. At departure, put a sensor on the box (or the pallet) of wine bottles
  2. At delivery, ask the transportation operator to extract the data then print it as a small report and give it to the customer; otherwise make the data available via the transportation provider's WEB site (and send it via email).

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In this way, you have tangible proof that everything has been done to guarantee that your wine hasn't been damaged. If the sensor was positioned early in the cycle, you'd also have visibility on the various phases of the supply chain, including - for example - storage and other movements. Furthermore, if your provider has more advanced sensors you could also have information related to shocks and vibrations as well as eventual theft attempts (for example via movement detectors).

I can hear you already: "this is going to be too expensive", "customers will expect this service to be free", etc. Well, personally I would be willing to pay a little contribution to have the type of certification described previously; also, sensors are now very cheap with reusable and single-use configurations; then each exchange you add with your customer (report, email notification for retrieving the charts, etc.) is an opportunity for more business.

S4GV can help

Oh well, given that this is not supposed to be a personal rambling message but a professional post, we at S4GV can help both the wine producers and the transportation providers guaranteeing full traceability and visibility on the wine supply chain. We have customers dealing with highly valuable bottles, others in the production of grape plants and we have tailor-made solutions for the wine industry. Take a look at our wine use case and get in touch if you want to discuss more.