A little chat with Paul Mabray about Wine and Tech

'Wine' Roland Mucciarelli
5 min readJun 16, 2017


Is data analysis important for Wine industry?

Well, who says it does, who says may be. Nobody says it doesn’t. But it seems that harvesting million and million of data about wine from social chats it doesn’t matter to wine marketing people.

Because, how to explain that a company like VinTank was been closed at July 31, 2016, after 7 years of honored job?

VinTank was monitoring somewhat as over one Billion chats about wine, 1200 wineries connected and 50 Million of social customer profiled when was closed from former owner W2O.

Six month later Avero, a company offering software services to hospitality branch, as restaurants and hotels, announced acquisition of VinTank and its assets, changing the name in AveroBuzz. Paul Mabray, co-founder of VinTank with James Jory, went in AveroBuzz as head of Avero’s West Coast office.

It’s no wonder wineries are gun shy to work with any new technology solutions. They’ve been sold the Naxon Network, million dollar websites, CRM solutions that never worked. They’ve been pitched marketplaces that never sold a bottle, solutions that trapped you into a partnership that was virtually impossible to break, and apps promising to help consumers drink more wine. Even the biggest and most successful companies — Amazon, E-bay, Facebook, etc. — have had high profile failures and have yet to show success in our business. (from Paul’s post on The Buyer)

When VinTank was closed, Paul asked himself if a company about Wine&Tech could ever survive; his questions was for the Wine Industry, that seems a short-look regard to the future. Here you can read his post on The Buyer, where he explains Life, Universe and Everything about Wine&Tech. Or so.

I’m a Paul’s follower on Twitter, and I asked him if he agreed to make a little chat with me about this topic; you know, I’m addicted in Wine&Tech, too.

Paul has kindly accepted, and this is our e-mail conversation.

Me: Paul, I had already read your post, and I knew your story. Reading back your word have saddended me a little, nothing that a good glass of wine couldn’t solve.

Paul: No need to be sad. The whole thing was a great success and even though it was shut down, it contributed to the greater good and is already being relaunched as AveroBuzz.

Note of Me: Lesson number 1 is it doesn’t matter if glass is half empty or half full, but that there is good wine into it.

Me: I thought that merging wine and digital techs was a problem was in Italy, with our traditions and history, but I see that same problem it exists in more evoluted Napa. Problem seems not depend from country, but from wine. Don’t?

Paul: It truly stems from wine vs region. I think this originates from being an annual agricultural product.

Me: I spoke with many young little wine producers, and don’t seems they are more tech advanced than their fathers. More of them produce no more of 50,000 bottles. Their roots are into the ground, not into bits. All digital innovation about wine was about customer. Do get technology into wine business start from wrong assumption?

Paul: The customer revolution has already occurred. We live in a digital society.

Note: Here he linked me his speech at Romeo Bragato Conference and Wine Award 2016 in Marlborough, New Zealand, where he explained very well this concept.

The “brain drain” of the wine/tech space is unprecedented and we’ve yet to see a surge of new blood coming to carry the torch forward. And understandably after my analysis of the industry. It is incredibly hard to be a successful tech company solely focused on the wine industry. (Paul Mabray, from his first post on Medium)

Yes, the digital society is here, all around us but there is a secret island out of time, Winegrowers’ Island, not touched by bits and bots; but customer will be drivers for digital revolution in wine.

Me: I’ve interviewed some tech companies, and all of them have great ideas about wine and new technologies. Drones, IoT, Big Data, Blockchains too. Is this the same as you write in your post about CRM’s and millionar websites?

Paul: There are so many great technology applications and companies that can do so well in the wine industry. The problem is convincing a manufacturing industry to invest in avant garde sales and marketing technology solutions.

You’ll see wineries spend tens of thousands of dollars on bladder presses, concrete eggs, barrels, then balk at $250 for a one-time digital marketing spend. (Paul Mabray, from The Buyer)

Me: You point over the cooperation among wine companies, restaurants, hotels, touristic agencies, and I agree in that. All agree that. Wine have a complicated supply chain, no one want to be bypassed from technology. It’s that the same fear of ice seller when fridge was invented?

Paul: The ice seller probably didn’t see the threat from the refrigerator. We as an industry are blind to the digital revolution and how it will affect our businesses. We have been fortunate to be one of the last industries to not be radically changed by the internet. That being said we are destined for an major revolution and the days for digital darwinism are inevitable.

The other thing we need is collaboration/consolidation. Too much energy/time is wasted dividing our attention between vendors and too many vendors struggle to find the right focus for our small industry. Both parties’ resources are being pulled in so many directions. How can we move forward with so much confusion and deliberate obstructionism from certain vendors and wineries? (Paul Mabray, from Medium)

Me: Old and New World of wine are similar in their .. dislike about digital channels. Australia hasn’t it, and our friends of Down Under are closer to a new market like China than us. Do you think that news in wine go through Melbourne?

Paul: I find the New World countries being more open to digital than Old World countries. The world leaders in wine and digital are USA and Australia.

Note: In Europe we produce as many wine as 50% of world total. A great quality wine, I say. But best buyers are moving to East, and if we older Western people will not be able to understand it, we’ll risk our business future.

Me: Introducing new technologies in produce and business wine can be a good idea, despite everytingh?

Paul: No question. We need innovators and we all need to find ways to support those innovators.

Digital Darwinism is inevitable and the only survivors will be those wineries who have the ability to adapt but the longer we wait, perhaps it will be our whole industry that loses to retailers, wholesaler, or other categories like craft beer. (Paul Mabray, from The Buyer)

My last question is been about a topic I’ve many interest which, realization of a Wine Digital Conference in Italy.

Me: I’d like to start a Digital Wine Conference in Italy, like the Sonoma Vintagereport. Have you some advice for me?

Paul: That’s great. My advice is to find a central purpose to the event and attract an International audience. The key is having a theme by which you can attract both wine and non-wine sponsors.

The interview here ends. What I’ve learned from this little chat?

One: Wine&Tech is a very difficult world to make business

Two: Future is here, it doesn’t wait and customers don’t, too

Three: Pair right wine with right technology

I want to thank Paul for his time to answer me, and I hope he will be present for the I Digital Wine Conference in Italy.

Originally published at thedigitalwine.webinvigna.it on June 16, 2017.



'Wine' Roland Mucciarelli

Blogger+Podcaster about wine and technology driving Wine Business at the next level