Crowdfunding: wine joins the party!

20.11.2014 | Bar-room debates

fundovino_blackYou may have heard of Ulule, KissKissBankBank, Kickstarter or MyMajorCompany– but do you know Fundovino, the first crowdfunding website devoted to wine? Launched in August 2014, it has already enabled several projects to be financed. To date, the best-supported include a tech innovation that lets growers detect flavescence dorée, a disease that devastates grapevines; a short film about an Alsace grand cru; the production of barrels using timber from the forests around Reims; and a website for swapping bottles of wine, called TrocWine. The projects are varied, but the principle is always the same: funding by many people, underpinned by a committed, human-centric ethos.

Crowdfunding is an idea that’s simple and ingenious for our period of crisis: harness private individuals’ enthusiasm… and their money. Anything but a craze, this online system for public fundraising is opening up a new era for entrepreneurs keen to develop projects without involving banks. Behind their screen, anyone can contribute to help get a venture that enthuses them off the ground.

Crowdfunding naturally requires communication. Although banks are cut out of the equation, funders must still be kept informed – and convinced – about the project. As a result, funding and community are two sides of the same coin, as reflected by the MyMajorCompany, which popularised the concept in 2008 by producing the first entirely crowdfunded recording artist.

From artistic projects to SMEs to charities to tech innovations – crowdfunding has made its mark as a funding system that’s innovative, credible and brings people together. The public is no longer just a passive link at the end of the chain but an engaged stakeholder, upstream of the production stage. This recasting of roles is fulfilling for each player: the connection lasts longer than the one-shot consumption of a product or service, whether it involves culture, food or society.

The times they are a-changin’, and wine is no exception. Every day, the wine community learns a little more about the benefits of crowdfunding. Regional wine body Vins du Languedoc has created a wine tourism geolocation app for smartphones and tablets. Some projects are even more ambitious: 2013 saw the launch of the Alta Vinhaproject to revive production on abandoned or unfarmed land in southern France. Vins du Jura, meanwhile, has got into crowdfunding too: the book of Wink Lorch on Jurassian wines was produced via Kickstarter, and has now been shortlisted for the 10th des Louis Roederer Wine Writers’ Awards, which every year singles out the best books about wine.

So: how long will it be before the next crowdfunded project in the Jura’s vineyards? Get your thinking-cap on –and keep your wallet to hand!

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