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Napa based startup helps wine brands sell ‘NFT’ digital art

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Have you ever wanted to plan a wine experience in Napa Valley and been overwhelmed by the options, or uninterested in repeating what you have already enjoyed? This is the problem Cuvée Collective, a Napa Valley startup, is solving by selling wine NFTs.

The acronym NFT stands for non-fungible token. A NFT is a unique digital asset (such as a digital piece of art) that is issued in guaranteed and verifiably limited quantities.

Cuvée Collective is creating NFTs as a new “product” that the company is selling to customers on behalf of a winery or wine brand.

“We’re acting as the publisher of each winery’s NFT collection,” said Andrew Allison, CEO of Libation Labs, the maker of Cuvée Collective. Allison, 34, grew up in Napa and graduated from Napa High School in 2006.

“We predict that consumers will collect wine NFTs exactly as they would collect wine,” said Allison.

Cuvée Collective has so far partnered with more than 25 wine brands in Napa and Sonoma counties, using NFTs to grant access to a host of off-menu perks that are otherwise unavailable to the public.

Those perks range from exclusive in-person events and wine allocations, concerts, and off-menu food and wine pairings to virtual one-on-one tastings with winery owners.

The limited-edition wine NFTs feature digital images of photographs. During their initial launch, each NFT depicts an image of that brand’s wine bottle and a specific background.

For the participating wine brands, using NFTs means “engagement with a new, younger, highly qualified wine consumer,” said a news release. ”Cuvée Collective takes the leg work out of marketing to Millennial and Gen-Z audiences and brings innovation and new technology to the market as the traditional wine club model ages out.”

“By creating new avenues for younger consumers to access wine and wine experiences through digital offerings, wineries are able to reach a new, younger, more digitally focused consumer,” said a company news release. “A wine NFT program allows members to experience Napa Valley in a new and unique way.”

“We want our community of NFT holders to have both digital and physical benefits so our members could be based all over the world and still enjoy the benefit of our NFTs.”

The CEO said that each winery brand’s collection of NFTs will be sold at a range of prices. For example, some wineries might sell 1,000 NFT images for $50 each. Others might only sell 50 NFT images for $1,000 each. It depends on the brand and the experience that is being offered in tandem with the digital image.

Each NFT offering includes the digital piece of art and “real, tangible, experiential” benefits such as the winery dinner or private tasting.

Cuvée Collective plans to release 12 “collections” of branded wine NFTs this summer.

Winery partners who have recently joined Cuvée Collective include Robert Craig, Massican and Harumph, who said they were “looking to expand their consumer base in the digital space.”

As technology evolves, “our biggest question has been: How do we maintain the romance of wine?” asked Elton Slone, CEO of Robert Craig Winery.

“Generation Z should want to come to Napa Valley, experience the wine, the beautiful scenery and the story behind it all,” he said. “NFTs are a way to bring that experience to new people and give them ownership of that experience and I think they can definitely be used to narrate the story of wine. I’m excited to see what sort of wider audiences these NFTs will attract to the wine industry, and exactly what sort of benefits will make them keen to invest in wine NFTs.”

As NFTs are new to the wine industry, Cuvée Collective is also focusing their efforts on educating the wine industry. The company’s “Wine in Web3” podcast discusses the future of technology in the wine industry with experts throughout the valley, and brings light to the future of how NFTs could impact the wine industry.

“Nobody in the industry should be intimidated by the word NFT,” said Allison.

What about people who don’t understand the whole digital art concept, who might say the value of NFTs is arguable?

“All of our NFTs are backed by events, experiences or wine allocations that have a value,” said Allison.

Even after a customer enjoys the actual winery experience, or drinks the wine, NFT owners can then show off their digital NFT collection to other NFT owners, whether using social media or other platforms.

Info: Cuveecollective.com, press@libationlabs.io

The Like A Virgin singer is releasing her NFT collection for charity with the proceeds from their sale going directly to the Voices of Children and the City of Joy organisations and Black Mama's Bail Out initiative. The collection, titled Mother Of Creation, was made with digital artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple. The tokens are three videos, which "represent a different form of birth in our contemporary world", according to a press release. In each video, Madonna plays the role of creator. The videos are titled Mother Of Nature, Mother Of Evolution, and Mother Of Technology.

You can reach reporter Jennifer Huffman at 707-256-2218 or jhuffman@napanews.com

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.

Related to this story

Cuvée Collective is making and marketing NFTs for its wine clients. Take a look here at its art, and other NFTs in the news. 

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