The European Union has a declared intention of getting 25% of all of the wine produced in its territory to be certified as having been organically produced. For this to happen a lot of producers are going to be interacting with, and paying money to, certification bodies. Is there an alternative?
'Open Source Winemaking'
Mike Bravo, an Argentine-based, tech-focused, producer - better-known by some as Mike Tango Bravo - believes so. Speaking at the Areni Global Conference in Stellenbosch, he claimed technology including the blockchain could easily provide a better form of verification: ‘open source winemaking’.
A number of sensors and webcams in his Costaflores vineyard deliver data 24 hours per day to a central computer that also logs information from vineyard workers and the winery accounts revealing which products have been purchased. The use of the blockchain, in theory at least, guarantees that none of the data can be changed once it has been recorded.
“Compare this”, he says “to the existing model where an employee of the certification company visits my office and asks me what I’ve been doing in my vineyards and looks at workbooks that I might well have written up the previous evening. “The certification body” he continues “has every incentive to give me a stamp of approval. If it doesn’t, it loses a paying client for a year.”
But what, a cynic might ask, if a self-certifier were to falsify their sensors, cameras and accounts?
Self-certification Controlled by a 'Bounty' System
Bravo has an answer. He proposes a ‘bounty’ system. Anyone who questions his veracity would stake an amount of money which he would match. An independent body would then be invited to resolve the issue. If proof of dishonesty is discovered, the questioner gets his money back twice over, while the winery loses its organic status.
Will this OpenVino model take off? Time will tell. Since 2018, Bravo has already been successfully exploiting the technology to sell wine from his winery in the form of ‘wine-backed cryptoassets’ and is making that model available to other producers this year.