In an Australian first, Seppeltsfield Barossa has launched a new tap-and-go technology, embedding their bottled wines with a special code and microchip to protect them from counterfeiting.
The South Australian vineyard (which has been around since 1851) might be best known for its vintage fortified wines, but is now leading the way to protect their luxury white and reds on the market.
Seppeltsfield teamed with anti-counterfeit technology company and ASX-listed YPB Limited to create a savvy solution that allows you to instantly know whether your wine has been tampered with.
An Australian Federal Government Business Innovation Grant helped get the ball rolling – the project itself taking 12 months of research and development to perfect. The first bottles set to be chipped are the Westing and The Northing Shiraz 2017.
According to Seppeltsfield Barossa Executive Chairman Warren Randall, investing in wine authenticity and protection is a top priority for the esteemed Barossa house.
"Our Barossa red and white wines have only been in existence for a few years, but this has provided as an opportunity to get in early, before we potentially encounter challenges in counterfeiting and really send a signal that our heritage is worth protecting," says Randall.
Protect and serve
So how does the microchip technology work?
YPB has created NFC Vintail technology that assigns a unique ID number to each bottle. This is where a rolling code is applied, which makes it impossible to copy.
Once your new bottle of wine is opened, your Smartphone will be able to detect if it has been previously been opened or interfered with. The NFC (Near Field Communication) technology is native on all iPhone XS, XS Max and XR – all you need to do is tap where indicated. You'll also get more bang for your buck with wine provenance information and a 360 degree view of the Barossa based headquarters on your screen.
All other models of phones are dating back to iPhone 6 will require the user to download the free NFC reader app. The majority of Android comes have native NFC functionality inbuilt.
A new era for wine
"Aside from entering into the frontier of new wine label counterfeit technology and the timing and availability of this innovation, it was simply impossible in our past life of fortified wines to copy the contents of our signature wine," says Randall of the heritage drop," says Randall.
"Our 100-year old Para Vintage Tawny is the only wine in the world that is matured for 100 years in an oak barrel before bottling. No-one in their right mind would even attempt to replicate that."
Seppeltsfield are not the first in the region to become threatened by counterfeit copies on the market – the most notable being Penfolds – where more than $800,000 worth of their most internationally acclaimed Bin series flooded the market in China last year, while Henschke's lauded Hill of Grace is another favourite among the copycats.
Facing the threat
Randall says counterfeiting is a real threat to the wine industry, much like other luxury items including handbags, designer fashion labels and prestige watches.
"Counterfeiting is a global issue in the luxury goods category," says Randall.
"I see it frequently with wine when I'm travelling in international markets," he adds.
"A tech innovation to help us counteract it with our wine is not so much about fixing the problem, but showing our customers we are making an investment to reduce the risk."