It was central in the tabernacle during the time of the Temple in Jerusalem, and it was a part of the first Passover celebration following the exodus from Egypt as a way to sanctify the day along with the Sabbath.The story of Jesus is also peppered with references to wine. One of the most known stories the New Testament offers is Jesus’ visit to a wedding in Kana. Noting that they ran out of wine during the celebration, he turned jugs of water into wine—and good quality wine, as the New Testament assures us.Wine wasn’t exclusive to the Middle East, however. Greece also has a rich history of making and drinking wine, and evidence of viticulture has been found in the ancient world as well in China, Iran, and Sicily. During this time, wine was elemental in connecting the world as a part of the resource and product trade that developed between nation-states and empires.The major disruption to wine culture — which was still mostly local — came during the height of the Roman Empire. Rome devoted research and effort into making better wines, improving the grape growing and winemaking processes. More importantly, the Romans were the first to truly turn wine into a commodity thanks to their improved production. For the first time, people could invest in and speculate on wine.
from Vineyardto Glass
The Vinsent Vision
Meet Vinsent - a new venture creating direct relationships between wine lovers and wineries. The retail wine industry generates over $300 billion a year but suffers from a severe lack of community. Watch as Jacob and Gil, the co-founders of Vinsent, explain the ideas and methods behind a revolution in the making. Cheers!
The History of Wine
Wine is immensely popular today, but its roots stretch back farther than you can imagine. Discover the origins and evolution of wine from ancient times to today’s burgeoning global market.
Wine is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and it has the distinction of being one of the oldest as well. Even so, not many people know where the high-quality wines they drink today come from, or the thousands of years of innovation that go into every glass. So, how did wine get its start? The history of wine is one of disruption, innovation, and bold risk-takers.
Wines in the Ancient World
Finding the real start of wine making requires traveling back thousands of years into the past. The ancient world was one full of wine and different vinicultural traditions that spanned much of Eurasia and Africa. Indeed, the oldest known winery in the world was discovered in Armenia and was dated back to 4100 BCE. Wine has been a part of human life nearly as long as recorded history.The bible mentions wine as an integral part of early life. Noah, after 150 days spent floating on his ark, planted a vineyard and celebrated with wine until he became slightly intoxicated. He was not the only one. Wine plays an essential role in many religious ceremonies and rituals.
Most popular wine varieties
The Medieval Era
The fall of the Roman Empire in the West and the Rise of the Catholic Church brought with it a change to who made wines, and how it was made. The rise of Islamic Caliphates in the Middle East limited the popularity of wine in the region, though production still thrived in areas such as the Levant, Iraq, and Egypt. In Europe, wine became more expensive as it was only produced in a few areas. Moreover, the major producers of the time were monks making wine for Catholic masses, as well as for sale. Monks, who had time and dedication to their work, perfected wine growing techniques that were previously unknown, and mastered the art of winemaking and pioneered the early aging process. The Benedictine order, for example, had large estates dedicated to viticulture and viniculture across France, and are responsible for some of the most famous wines in the world. The order had vineyards in Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux, and even in some German regions. During the 16th century, an increased interest in wine led to a more developed palate along with greater focus on wine quality and taste.
The Modern Era
Despite its burgeoning popularity and demand across Europe and the East, wine was still mostly stored and aged in barrels, making it hard to reach more places. Demand far outstripped supply, but the quality of wine was firmly on the rise. In the 17th century, the industry was bolstered by a simple invention that would redefine how we buy, drink, and store wines—the glass bottle and cork. This new, easier way to store and sell wines was key for the French wine industry, and the wine trade exploded. Most importantly, wine was used to trade for many New World commodities like coffee, which introduced it to the global market. During this period, wine also stopped being a necessity and became a luxury.
In centuries prior, wine was a popular beverage due to the poor quality of water in many urban and rural centers. By diluting water with alcohol, it became safer to drink. With new purification methods and cleaner water, wine could now be sold exclusively as a luxury item. This small change also completely disrupted the way wine was sold and marketed. The wine industry was experiencing a golden age that lasted nearly three centuries when disaster struck. The 19th century for wines was defined by a tragedy and a shining new opportunity. In 1863, French vineyards were clobbered by a blight which crippled production in several regions and threatened the world’s supply of wines.
Fortunately, wine makers discovered that grape strains in America were immune to the plague that had struck France and other European producers. This surprising twist led to two major developments that advanced the wine industry once more. The first was the emergence of American vineyards as a global force. The other was the introduction of American grapes in many regions of Europe, which created hybrid plants that have led to the great variety of wines available today.
The last century has been transformative for wine, resulting in the production of some of the highest quality vintages. Modern developments like refrigeration and more accurate measuring tools allowed winemakers to truly perfect their craft while cultivating the very best grapes in optimal conditions. Now, new developments in the digital world are bringing wine to an even wider audience. With new discoveries and innovation occurring with each passing day, the future is undeniably bright for wine.
Take a Leap
to the global stage
The wine futures market is a key component of the wine industry. Learn about its origins and see how technology is opening wine futures to a bigger global audience.
Wine today is one of the world’s biggest commodities, and it’s only getting bigger. Consumers constantly have access to better wines and a greater variety of choices, but the best vintages have, until recently, been reserved exclusively for an elite few who have a separate way to purchase their wines. Many merchants and other wine industry insiders purchase wine directly from winemakers and reserve their best bottles long before wine even makes its way into the bottle. This is known in French as En Primeur and is also commonly referred to as a wine future. Wine futures remain an important feature for certain segments of the wine industry, a holdover from the 18th century when vineyards faced harder times finding financing to fund their harvests and production. Today, the wine futures market is restricted to an elite few, though there are signs that the En Primeur system could be adopted on a global level instead of simply restricted to industry insiders.
The Origins of Wine Futures
The concept of buying wine futures is practiced in some of the most elite circles of the wine industry. Major merchants and buyers are invited to private barrel tastings where they can outright purchase lots of production before the grapes are even pulled from the vine. This way, they have first rights to a certain number of bottles produced from a vintage, which can be incredibly beneficial if the wine is high quality. The practice may seem complicated, but its origins are relatively simple. En Primeur is surprisingly not a French invention, but a product of necessity and available supply.
Old world vs. new world wine production
During the 18th century, Great Britain’s wine supplies were running thin after a prolonged period of war with France, and the country was unable to secure a solution. The answer to their prayers came in the form of Portugal, and especially the city of Port. The British moved to quickly re-establish their supply line with a novel concept: they would pay for future rights to purchase wine from winemakers once the process was complete. This allowed farmers to ensure their financing for the growing and production process while simultaneously providing the British a guaranteed supply of wine. En Primeur was highly successful, and once peace arrived the British were eager to introduce the concept to their once-major suppliers of wine in France. In the time thereafter, the wine futures market became a strategy for merchants and high-end buyers to purchase the best wines. Some regions in France, as well as certain producers in hubs like Spain, Italy, Australia, and even California, have adopted similar practices to guarantee their financial stability during the tricky process of winemaking. Today, however, wine futures have become less about helping wine producers and more about keeping those in control of the wine market at the very top. In Bordeaux, which ranks amongst the best wine-producing regions in the world, En Primeur sales are strictly controlled by guilds of brokers who behave as gatekeepers.
Only a select few groups can purchase wine futures, resulting in a two-tiered status quo that means many consumers must pay steep sums for the privilege of drinking these masterpieces.
Wine Futures Go Global
The 1970s were an important time for exposing this narrow market of wines, as it marked the first occasion when these more restricted wines were made available to regular consumers. When American wine drinkers became a larger part of the market, they began to purchase more French, and especially Bordeaux, wines.
This newfound popularity in such a large market forced the En Primeur process to gradually open to non-merchant consumers and marked one of the initial steps towards creating a more global wine futures market with the introduction of secondary markets. Today, the wine futures market is more open to a broader range of groups, especially on the secondary market, from large-scale buyers to collectors and even individual wine aficionados. Futures are useful because they offer significant benefits for both buyers and sellers. Winemakers have guaranteed funding and cash flow for their upcoming harvests and subsequent production. Buyers have access to wines at lower prices which may appreciate in value depending on the wine’s quality, and they can purchase wine directly from the source. Furthermore, wine futures can now be traded and speculated upon, leading to a more dynamic marketplace.
More importantly, technology has made wine futures significantly more accessible for secondary trading . Whereas buyers had to travel to specific wineries for barrel tasting to participate in the market, today most consumers can access the same vintages online or via digital means. Even so, the En Primeur process remains dominated by elite brokers who still control a large portion of the overall purchases. New technologies, however, are quickly eroding that control.
Moving to the Future
The history of wine is a tale of combining the old with the new to produce the unexpected. Wine futures were borne out of necessity and offered a new way to trade an old product. However, the good ideas quickly became entrenched and achieved the opposite of their goal—they closed off the market to everyone apart from industry insiders. As digital technology evolves, the wine industry will follow suit. With new solutions that open the futures trade even further, consumers will have unprecedented access while concurrently bypassing the middlemen that remain in control of the market today.DISCOVER VINSENT
Forging a Closer-Knit Wine Community
The wine industry is growing daily, but it can still improve. See how innovative technology and modern solutions are creating a tighter-Knit and stronger wine community.
The wine industry today is bigger than ever before and growing fast, but it still has a way to be the best it can be. While wine reaches almost every corner of the world, the industry remains separated and fragmented by barriers, intermediaries, and gatekeepers that create numerous inefficiencies. Consumers pay higher prices, and winemakers must deal with multiple layers of middlemen to sell their products. Even so, the story of wine is one of breaking boundaries and finding new solutions to old problems. By embracing innovative technologies and new perspectives—much like our forebears did—the wine community is creating a more transparent and open market for both buyers and sellers.
A Useful But Inefficient Model
The wine market as we know it today is the product of centuries of necessity turned into entrenched interests. The network of winemakers, negotiators, merchants, and other intermediaries required to go from vineyard to table works, but it is highly inefficient. Indeed, consumers can purchase a greater variety of wines than ever before, all exhibiting higher quality than in the past.
Even so, the costs that come with this extensive supply chain tend to affect two groups disproportionately: winemakers and buyers. Intermediaries make money by charging for their services at each step along the value chain, ostensibly to reduce winemakers’ stress to sell their wares. The end result is an opaque wine market whereby consumers pay in excess of fair prices, winemakers are insulated from the market, and there is little communication between them.
Intermediaries were a necessity when distances were greater and international commerce was scarcer. Negotiators were vital for supporting winemakers by taking their products much further than they ever could. Auctioneers were an effortless way for both consumers to find wines and winemakers to sell them in one location. Wine futures represented an ideal way to fund full harvests and productions. Today, however, technology renders most of these pain points moot.
Subtraction By Addition
The online revolution has not gone unnoticed by the wine community. Already, the wine industry has modernized some of its practices, with consumers able to purchase wines online and similar services emerging. However, the industry is still only starting to embrace technology, and it can still improve by leaps and bounds. One of the most promising technologies in recent years is blockchain. Originally created as the backbone of the now famous cryptocurrency bitcoin, blockchain itself offers a disruptive new model for sharing information and facilitating cross-border transactions that could jolt the wine community into the 21st century.
Global wine production versus consumption
One of blockchain’s biggest advantages is its ability to disintermediate and decentralize. Thanks to its peer-to-peer communication, it removes the need for layers intermediaries and other barriers.
Most importantly, blockchain provides a transparent and safe way to record information that offers both buyers and sellers the security needed to deal directly with each other. While many view the technology as a financial tool, the reality is that blockchain hold enormous potential to revolutionize the wine industry.
On one hand, removing intermediaries would create a more efficient market. Buyers could visit a single marketplace where sellers can deliver a variety of services including direct sales, wine futures, and more without requiring a negotiator. Consumers can communicate directly with their favorite wineries and buy wine at more affordable prices and without the need for convoluted purchasing processes. For sellers, blockchain offers a unique opportunity to learn more about the market.
Wine export totals 2017
Blockchain’s distributed ledger—a digital record of all transactions made that is available to every node on the network—delivers winemakers an unprecedented level of access to information about their consumers’ preferences, experiences, and more. By incorporating this data into their services, wineries can provide better services and make products that are sure to satisfy their consumers’ demands.
Most importantly, winemakers can be freed from the current marketplace, which reduces their profitability and limits their exposure to global markets. Instead of selling directly, winemakers’ access is restricted by their intermediaries and they are charged for the privilege. By moving their operations to a blockchain-based platform, wineries can connect with consumers directly, without having to go through their network of intermediaries. This gives them a significantly broader audience and means they can control their own supply and demand.
A More Open Wine Community
Blockchain has the power to simultaneously remove the barriers that have fragmented the global wine market and bring the community closer together. Thanks to its disintermediating power, it can also deliver better value to both buyers and sellers by creating a more transparent market. Removing the many roadblocks will also create a more healthy, vibrant, and tighter-knight wine community that stretches across the globe.DISCOVER VINSENT
Vinsent gives wine lovers a unique experience to partner directly with leading wineries around the world. With Vinsent wine lovers can purchase wines months after harvest (i.e. wine futures), get the latest updates about their wines from the winemakers themselves and list their futures for sale utilising blockchain technology.
A vintage Team
Jacob is the co-founder and CEO of Vinsent. In 2015 Jacob served as a Senior Advisor to McKinsey & Company, helping to build a new service line focused on early stage companies. Jacob is the Chairman of the award winning Jezreel Valley Winery. As an entrepreneur Jacob has created over $1 Billion in shareholder value. Jacob received a J.D. from Georgetown, a B.A. from CUNY, and was an Isaacs Scholar at Oxford University. Jacob is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute. In his free time, Jacob enjoys long distance running, having completed more than 10 marathons.
Until September 2018, Gil was Chairman of harmon.ie, an innovative software company leveraging AI to organize and deliver content to the IT worker. The company was successful bought by its management. Before his role in harmon.ie, Gil headed the Technology Investment Banking practice at Cukierman & Co., a boutique investment company focused on Europe and Asia. Prior to this, Gil was involved in corporate development, entrepreneurial and consultancy practices in Israel and overseas, serving both the private and public sectors. Gil is a graduate of EDHEC and the Merage institute.”