Wine is easy to counterfeit, but counterfeiting is difficult to spot. Thanks to crypto-technology, the new “Château Marlen” of the Schuler St. Jakobs Kellerei should be forgery-proof.

With this security seal, the Schuler St. Jakobs cellars want and that Start-up Authena making forgery-proof wine bottles.

Zuger start-up makes wine forgery-proof

The “Château Marlen” wine from Armenia, limited to 3000 bottles, is connected, sealed and secured using blockchain-based technology.

Zuger start-up makes wine forgery-proof

Wine lovers can pre-order the wine from mid-December. The wine is a premium product and costs between 30 and 40 francs per bottle. It will be delivered between May and June 2022.

That's what

  • Schuler St. Jakobs Kellerei protects a new wine from counterfeiting with a security seal and blockchain technology.

  • With the seal, buyers can seamlessly trace the history of their wine bottle.

  • The Zug-based company Authena, with which Schuler works, already uses similar technology to protect pharmaceutical products, among other things.

What is expensive is counterfeited. What applies to watches, jewelry, cash or branded clothing is also true of wine. Wine even makes up the majority of all counterfeit foods. In 2016, the European Union Intellectual Property Office estimated the loss of counterfeit wine in the EU at 530 million euros annually. It doesn't just affect consumers. Otto’s retailer also fell for fake wines in 2018. Up until now, fraudulently refilled wine bottles or counterfeit labels have been difficult to identify. Two companies in central Switzerland want to change that. Schuler St. Jakobs Kellerei and the Zug start-up Authena have developed a security seal that makes wines forgery-proof.

The Schuler St. Jakobs Kellerei has not yet been affected by forgeries. The winery from Seewen doesn't want to wait for that, as managing director Nikolas von Haugwitz explains: “You don't just leave your bike unlocked in the big city.” By chance he met the managing director of Authena. He explained to him how the start-up makes pharmaceutical products or perfumes counterfeit-proof with the help of an NFT chip and blockchain technology. «After we had exchanged ideas, the technology for wine bottles was further developed», says von Haugwitz.

Thanks to crypto, you know the history of wine

And it works like this: To make the wine forgery-proof, a so-called crypto tree is created, which can be accessed via a smartphone. In this, the individual steps in the creation of the wine are recorded. “This means that customers can follow the entire history of wine without any gaps,” says von Haugwitz. With the wine, buyers receive a crypto key with which they can register as the owner in the tree. If the bottle is then opened, the technology is destroyed and the crypto tree is interrupted. Since all information is stored there, buyers know that the original wine is really in the bottle. “This gives customers more security,” says von Haugwitz.

The first batch of forgery-proof wine consists of 3000 bottles of “Château Marlen” from Armenia. «The wine comes from the growing area with the oldest grape variety in the world. We wanted to combine tradition with modern technology, ”explains von Haugwitz. The wine can be pre-ordered from mid-December. As a premium product, it costs between 30 and 40 francs per bottle. It will be delivered between May and June 2022.

More information for consumers thanks to the seal

For the winery, however, protection against counterfeiting was not the only priority. The technology also gives customers more information. “After ordering, buyers receive a certificate of ownership that already includes the technology. In this way, you can follow live at any time which production step the wine is currently in, ”says von Haugwitz. In addition, manufacturers can store specific information, images and videos for their product, which enables end consumers to find out everything they need to know about the product.

The project is welcomed by the German-Swiss Wine Association. Jürg Bachofner, managing director of the association, says: “We think it's good when the possibilities of digitization are used.” The industry association is also working on a similar project. A holographic security label is intended to provide customers with information and increase security.

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By Teresa Tapmleton

Teresa Tampleton has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Nizh TEkegram, Teresa Tampleton worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7341

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