That was the claim by James Dawson, the founder of Humble Grape at this morning’s panel discussion at the London Wine Fair. Is he right?
His argument is a good one. This is a complex industry, highly fragmented with costly and inefficient supply chains. With end consumers who are not experts. The type of industry that could be transformed by killer technology and business innovations.
A Traditional Industry
When I attended this wine fair last year it felt like a very traditional industry. The most innovative things I remember seeing were design led wine labels. Hardly cutting edge.
Wine is in danger of being eclipsed by the rise of other artisan drinks like gin and beer which appeal to younger consumers. There is a significant sector of wine producers who are equally artisan and would appeal to young consumers if only they knew about each other. Last year I saw little evidence, other than the labels, of the industry grasping that.
This year feels slightly different. I spent the morning in the Innovation Zone listening to pitches from wine tech start ups. They were an interesting mix of ideas from those aiming to revolutionise the wine distribution system to virtual sommelier apps helping consumers to find good wines they will like.
Why not London?
Interestingly I listened to these in London. The capital of one of the largest wine consumer markets in the world and one of the leading technology cities in the world. Yet ever pitch was French. Where is UK wine tech?
My favourite roles have been around technology disruption and I love the excitement of those early days, I felt a little flutter of the same excitement this morning. Could it be that I witnessed the start of a trend, wine and new tech working together? I hope so.