VIVANT is an innovative wine experience platform, designed by Michael Baum, a technology pioneer and serial entrepreneur from Silicon Valley. Baum was one of the founders of the software company Splunk (SPLK) who decided to follow his passion and get involved in a wine business.
A commitment to sustainability
In 2014, this wine enthusiast, his wife and his twins became the fifth managerial family of Château de Pommard, founded in 1726 by a nobleman of the court of Louis XV. This makes the Carabello-Baum family the first American owners of a wine chateau in Burgundy.
Building on the family’s commitment to biodiversity and environmental regeneration, the estate began its conversion to biodynamic viticulture in 2016 with the help of winemaker Emmanuel Sala. In three years, his Clos Marey-Monge wines are their first certified organic vintage.
“Only 3% of the world’s wine production is organic,” says Baum. “Viticulture is a monoculture based on conventional agriculture that depletes the soil of the earth, creates dangerous runoff and unnecessarily contributes to global warming,” he adds.
The impact of confinement on wine tourism
When international travel virtually came to a halt during the pandemic, wine tourism was hit hard. The economic impact on many regions (in Europe and elsewhere) where visitors often combine their cellar and vineyard tours with visits to historical and cultural sites has been devastating.
“By locking down physical movements and interactions, the pandemic has accelerated the shift to digitized alternatives for services and goods in many industries,” said Niklas Ridoff, CEO of WineTourism.com, an online booking platform for tastings and visits to wine regions around the world. . “Wine tourism was no exception,” he says.
More than two-thirds (72%) of wineries in 42 countries report having fewer visitors after the pandemic, according to a spring 2021 survey of more than 1,400 wineries conducted by WineTourism.com in collaboration with the University of Geisenheim .
One lifeline that has emerged, however, has been the growth of virtual wine experiences. These are typically wine tasting and education experiences sponsored by one or more winemakers, typically taking place on a video conferencing platform (e.g. Zoom).
The same survey found that about a third (36%) of reporting wineries introduced online tastings due to COVID-19; only 3% had organized them before the pandemic.
Like wine tourism, online wine experiences give visibility to wineries (especially smaller ones), improve brand recognition, present their products to new audiences and increase sales.
The launch of a new wine experience platform
It’s no surprise that Baum’s next act draws on his tech expertise and pushes the boundaries, making virtual wine tastings bigger and better. Its ambitious goal: to build a more sustainable future for the industry.
Baum aims to educate the next generation of consumers on the importance of organic wines by enabling them to “travel the world of wine without leaving home … without the carbon footprint, cost and hassle of physical travel.”
Each participant in a VIVANT guided wine experience receives a tasting kit (shipped directly to their home) with six different organic or biodynamic wines packaged in 100ml tubes. Perfectly sized for two people, the kits are designed to allow wine enthusiasts and even novice users to develop their tasting skills and discover their wine preferences.
The interactive experiences (available live and on demand) are led by expert wine advisers offering participants the opportunity to discover a region, its wines and its winemakers through presentations, videos, quizzes and questions.
With beautiful photographs and maps, the platform also allows them to travel virtually, to dive into the vineyards and villages of the provinces of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Alsace, Loire, Champagne and Provence while sipping their sustainable wines. VIVANT will soon expand to include additional experiences from the wine regions of Italy and Spain.
If someone discovers a wine they like, most of which are probably not available on the shelves of local wine stores, they can order full-size bottles from the VIVANT company website.
Supporting organic winegrowers and producers
“It’s hard to make the voice of organic wine growers heard,” says Baum. “Big Wine owns the communications and messaging industry for the industry. Leveraging technology is the way for responsible producers to have a disproportionate impact on the industry and its future.
The platform is a way to introduce consumers to the “good things,” he says, wines they never knew existed and which are better for their health and the environment.
Commenting on the growth of virtual wine tastings in general, Ridoff of WineTourism.com says, “I am confident that more and more wineries will realize the potential of this relatively new marketing and revenue channel.