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Are the wine cellars of the future virtual?

“Easier access to great wines” — this is what Crurated founder Alfonso de Gaetano argues young wine collectors are looking for. And he’s going to give it to them, at least in virtual form. Eloise Feilden finds out more.

Are the next generation of wine cellars virtual?

Digital wine members’ club Crurated is tapping into a trend led by “a new generation of wine enthusiasts” with the launch of a virtual wine cellar for collectors.

Crurated has just launched what it’s calling its “metaverse” — a virtual cellar experience where owners can showcase their bottles and virtually walk through their fine wine collection.

“The idea came from frustration as a collector myself,” de Gaetano says. “I had lots of bottles in bonded warehouses in order to keep my wines in the best possible conditions, but I didn’t have the ability to see my bottles. I’d only be able to see them once I decided I was ready to drink them and wanted them shipped to me.”

Are the next generation of wine cellars virtual?
Founder Alfonso de Gaetano using Oculus VR

Just seeing your wines on an excel spreadsheet, he says, is “unexciting”. “We want our clients to be able to keep their bottles with us in perfect condition at no additional cost, whilst also their virtual cellar for them, so they can bring friends in, and take part in other activities once inside their Virtual cellar.”

Using a VR headset, owners can visit a portal on the Crurated website to gain access their private wine cellar in the metaverse. By the end of 2024, Apple users will also be able enjoy the metaverse using Vision Pro. The portal, in its first iteration, offers a virtual unboxing experience, and its “multi-player mode” allows Crurated members to bring in friends.

They can choose where to showcase their bottles, be it on display in the dedicated cellar Gallery or stored away on an “Infinite Wall”, Crurated’s virtual interpretation of a traditional wine cave.

de Gaetano believes virtual technology is key to the future of fine wine collecting. And with 70% of Crurated members under the age of 45, he needs to be keeping up. The technology, he says, is angled towards collectors in the 25-45 age bracket — a new generation of wine enthusiasts who are doing things differently.

“Not only are they looking for great wines, but also guaranteed provenance direct from producers, easier ways to access their collection, as well as being able to ship their wines wherever and whenever they want,” he explains. “Technology is enabling us to simplify and enrich their experiences. This is our current focus and we’re excited to see what’s next.”

Launching in the spring, the Crurated Metaverse is built on Unreal Engine 5, a 3D virtual production tool used by Epic Games in releases including Fortnite. Each bottle owned by Crurated members is certified with an NFT. Crurated’s tech team is currently working across blockchain, metaverse and AI technology to develop the next stage of its virtual offering.

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