How the Rise of Wine Subscriptions Democratized a Once-Stuffy Industry
About a decade ago, the emergence of wine subscription services offered popular wedding gifts for wine-loving newlyweds. In the years since, a growing number of unique startups have also entered the wine world to shake up how oenophiles interact with their beloved vino.
It hasn’t taken long for investors to take note and direct their dollars into these innovative startups. In fact, venture-backed startups in the alcohol space—including wine-focused ventures—raised more than $1 billion in global investment in 2021.
These startups offer new ways to learn about, experience, invest in, and even store wines of all varieties for both the burgeoning and seasoned collector.
Removing the exclusivity factor historically associated with wine consumption is the name of the game at Somm. The Toronto-based and female-founded tech company makes wine more approachable and accessible with what it describes as a “sommelier in your pocket.” The lifestyle app offers coveted perks at top restaurants, hotels, wineries, and agencies. The app also provides wine recommendations based on both food pairings and personal palates.
In 2018, Canadian-designed app InVintory emerged to simplify the lives of both seasoned and new enthusiasts. Built by collectors themselves, the app redefines the way wine lovers interact with and organize their collections by offering a digital platform to help track and find bottles. The app simplifies the collection process with an all-in-one, tech-forward platform to document experiences, tasting notes, pairings, and physical locations of each bottle within your cellar.
Vinovest helps people put their money where their wine is by democratizing the world of fine wine investing. Established in 2019, the platform offers a hassle-free means to enter the once barrier-filled space by acting as an “investment sommelier” and providing a state-of-the-art wine cellar for their clients’ physical assets to age nicely. The company creates a customized wine portfolio—one clients can access and manage via phone apps—based on their risk tolerance, with investment tiers starting as low as $1000. Best of all, bottles can be shipped to clients’ homes to enjoy.
With Montreal-based CellArt, stuffy and traditional cellars are a thing of the past and swapped for tech-forward, eye-popping works of art, themselves. Jonathan Primeau fuses his love for wine and design to create luxury bespoke spaces and objects to house bottles like never before. Each unique design is created in a Montreal atelier and shipped to clients around the world, where the dream wine spaces find homes everywhere from luxury yachts to mountain chalets to Manhattan penthouses.
Offering another platform for those in the market to diversify their portfolios (and, perhaps, their palates), Cult Wines allows clients to easily enter the lucrative space of fine wine investing. With over $400M worth of assets under management, wine is stored in a bonded warehouse, and clients can easily monitor their investment via an online portal. Taking it a step beyond wealth creation by way of the bottle, the company also offers clients perks, like access to rare wines and curated vineyard tours.