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Innovative mobile solutions for wineries are boosting tourism and setting an example for other specialist tourism outlets, writes Andrew Hennigan

Not that long ago, identifying a wine, finding out more about it and ordering a bottle was sometimes a challenge, even for the experts armed with years of experience and hefty catalogues. In addition, exotic traditions, dusty cellars and ancient chateaux, led many to perceive the wine business as stuck in the past.

That’s anything but the case. In fact, there are a growing number of apps out there that are helping to demystify the process of identifying a wine, and are tapping into a fast growing demographic of mobile-centric customers.

By making it easier to understand wine and visit wine-related event they encourage wine enthusiasts, and the same time set an interesting example for other specialty tourism businesses.

At the premier cru end of the market there are apps like Delectable and Vivino, which recognise a wine just by pointing the phone’s camera at the label.

Another app, Plonk, as the name might suggest is aimed at the less experienced wine drinker and although it doesn’t scan wine labels or recognise the wine, it will help with pronunciation.

While these apps are for home use, preferably in a cellar, or perhaps furtively in a restaurant, there are a growing number that meet at the crossroads between tourism and the passion for wine drinking. Among these are apps like: Winery Finder, Winery Passport and Corksharing

Using geo-location features with a database of wineries, users are steered towards opportunities to visit nearby vineyards or wine tasting events.

Most originate in California with a focus on US establishments, though some, like Corksharing, extend coverage to other wine producing countries such as the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia, France, Spain and Italy.

The Corksharing experience

Bryan Petro, CEO & Founder at Corksharing says their aim is to give wine lovers a new way to explore wine regions.

Here are three examples:

Not only does Corksharing’s app and website allow users to search and plan for trips to wineries or wine tasting events, it also facilitates reservations.

“What makes it different from typical restaurant booking apps like OpenTable is that you can pay in advance, which can be especially useful for business users,” says Petro. It will also create a QR-coded ticket stored in the phone that can be scanned on arrival for a completely paperless experience – just like electronic boarding passes at airports.

CorkSharing’s business model is to take small percentage of each reservation fee. “There are no subscriptions and the app is free. We feel that no customer should pay if they don’t get business”, says Petro, who believes this “is ethical business at it’s best”.

Initially the company reached out to wineries to sign them up, but now there is also an interface for entering all relevant information. Having said that, a team is available to lend a hand if a winery needs help.

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