Wine vintages to the minute, not the year, with Blockchain technology

  • Posted on June 13, 2017

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Lucas Cullen.

If you understand Blockchain, than you recognise the power it has to become a platform for truth and trust. Blockchain technology is a fast and secure protocol to transfer metadata between untrusted parties. In simpler terms, blockchain is a kind of independent, transparent, and permanent database coexisting in multiple locations and shared by a community. Each ‘block’ of data is linked together by cryptographic validation, forming an unbroken chain.

Winemaking is a fantastic use case for blockchain, and one that should be explored widely.  Why? Because any industry best practice that has value is subject to fraud or counterfeit- putting the reputation of winemakers, and even consumers health at risk.  So how can this technology help overcome some of those challenges?  Here's how it could work.  Disclaimer:  I'm not a wine maker, but partial to a drop.

Let’s start at the beginning during harvest. Internet of Things (IoT) devices have the potential to record inputs of raw materials, in this case grapes. With this data, we not only get the amount of produce (which could be fabricated), but more importantly in the wine industry, the date of production. Traditionally, proving an event occurred on a date required another incumbent actor, which of course, incurs waste or cost.

A skeptic can now monitor these inputs. Although we could never know for sure the tonnes of grapes added to the system, we could apply inductive reasoning to monitor their claims. Grapes are then fermented for a period of time.  Each vat, or barrel, could also log data to the chain. If the manufacturer discloses the vat type, which it is in their best interest to do so, we see truth - that the oak wood-aged dram was aged in oak wood. If the barrel manufacturer issued their stock via a blockchain, we could see that the distiller does in fact own those types of barrels. Each leg along the supply chain introduces more evidence.

We can safely assume that each company has their brands best interests at heart. If the transport company takes stock that transports it to a retailer, the retailer itself will police the transport company.  It does not want to get stuck holding the counterfeit goods, and now has stake in protecting the original manufactures brand.  This is analogous to cash.  No merchant wants to get caught with counterfeited notes.

In game theory, this is described as a zero sum game. The system gains strength in numbers; all without the oversight governing body, who adds cost and bureaucracy along the way.  We can now have incontestable vintages to the minute, not the year, and a new definition of "signature series" would be born.

We invite to read another potential application of blockchain, “Why a Blockchain EHR Makes Sense for a Patient-centered Approach."

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