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How a crook and a countess led to the founding of VERIWINE.

Without Rudy Kurniawan, we wouldn't exist. Because when founder Rahul Sen Gupta saw the documentary "Sour Grapes" about Kurniawan's million-dollar fraud, he had an idea. From this, VERIWINE was born - a solution that can prevent such scams. But there is also a very different person who has significantly shaped and inspired us. Here we tell our origin story one by one.



In the early 2000s, a new name emerged at the ever-growing wine auctions: Rudy Kurniawan. The Indonesian was given the nickname "Dr. Conti" because of his preference for the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.


In 2007, Kurniawan wanted to sell several bottles of the 1982 Château Le Pin at Christie's in Los Angeles. The winery then contacted the auction house to say that the wines were not genuine. Kurniawan's image began to crumble, and soon new accusations of forgery were added.


In 2012, the FBI arrested Kurniawan. Cheap wines from Napa Valley, corks, labels, and notes indicating fraudulent intent were found at his home. For this, Dr. Conti was sentenced to ten years in prison. His story inspired Jerry Rothwell and Reuben Atlas to make the documentary film "Sour Grapes", which was released in 2016.




How smart contracts led to a smart solution.


Just as Kurniawan's story inspired two directors, their film inspired Rahul. The founder of VERIWINE had been studying blockchain technology and smart contracts for some time. These digital contracts offer numerous advantages: they can be automated, executed without third parties, and offer trust and transparency.


"What if...", Rahul thought when he saw "Sour Grapes". So he started to research - and found out that black and grey markets are not a niche phenomenon in the wine industry. The damage caused by counterfeiting, grey markets, and misallocation amounts to around $20 billion* - per year, mind you.


Interestingly, it is not the absolute top wines that suffer the most. The smaller the edition of a winery, the easier it is to check the authenticity of a bottle. It is much more difficult in the mid-price segment ($ 30 - $ 80). Based on production volumes and margins, this is the safest place for fraudsters to bring their fakes to market. At least so far.


In any case, the film and the problems it addressed never left Rahul's mind, just like a holiday in Burgundy some 15 years earlier.


Our driving force: the love for wine.


In the village of Nuits-Saint-Georges in Burgundy, Pinot Noir is grown exclusively - and hospitality is celebrated. This is where Rahul first got to know and appreciate wine. Together with his wife, he spent four nights in the accommodation of Comtesse Madame de Loisy.


In the evening, the countess served wine. Not only in the glasses: There was a coq au vin to eat, which was allowed to braise in the house's own Grand Cru. Here Rahul learned a lot about wine, food culture, and the finer things in life.


In vino veritas - what our platform brings to you:


VERIWINE combines everything we have just written about: the intelligent use of technology, a passion for wine and its centuries-old culture, and the intention to combat the immense damage caused by counterfeiting.


Thanks to our solution, winemakers can identify and mark every single bottle they fill as genuine beyond doubt. This authenticity and transparency bring benefits along the entire supply chain: retailers and wine lovers have certainty about the origin of the wine and can trace their product.


Smart technology offers many benefits beyond data and supply chain integrity. We want to bring together and democratize the previously fragmented wine industry. Thanks to us, even small players can take advantage of the opportunities of digitalization. Winemakers gain more knowledge about who their end customers are and can also contact them directly. Retailers also gain valuable data that can help them optimize, sales, marketing, and product portfolio management.


We also create a platform for exchange. Winegrowers can exchange information about cultivation methods or new challenges such as climate change and enter the world of smart farming.

Santé!


Enough about the future, our journey has only just begun. Now we would like to raise our glass to the - now sadly deceased - Comtesse de Loisy. Without her, Rahul might never have combined his knowledge of blockchain technology and insights into counterfeiting damage in the wine industry into a new solution. And VERIWINE would not be on the market now.


Meanwhile, Rudy Kurniawan was released from prison and deported from the USA. Let's toast to the fact that no more fake wine will end up in our glasses!





* Marco Turchini, Averting counterfeiting in the wine industry: a supply chain-based framework, Università degli Studi di Firenze, January 2012.


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