Digital wine collectibles gaining momentum with the launch of Robert Mondavi NFTs

Fine wine has appreciated 127% over the past decade, according to the Knight Frank Luxury Investment index. Now, with iconic wine brands such as Robert Mondavi entering the NFT rush, there are even more profits to be had.

Robert Mondavi was an Italian immigrant who brought American wines to the world’s attention. He told the world that Napa Valley was as good as Bordeaux—and the world believed him. Robert Mondavi’s iconic brand reinvented itself as an NFT, joining many other traditional companies tapping into Web 3.0.

Robert Mondavi NFT (non-fungible token) sales kickstarted on December 15. Among other brands available as NFTs are former NBA player Yao Ming’s Yao Family Wines and Invivo X by Sarah Jessica Parker. This summer, Bordeaux’ Château Angelus sold an NFT along with a barrel of 2020 Angelus, as well as 3D artwork based on the Angelus label.  

For its NFT project, Napa Valley’s Robert Mondavi Winery partnered with French luxury porcelain house Bernardaud. The collection, titled “MCMLXVI,” features a limited series of 1,966 Limoges porcelain 1.5L bottles. The NFTs were developed in partnership with VaynerNFT, founded by serial entrepreneur and blockchain enthusiast Gary Vaynerchuk.

“Robert Mondavi had a gift for promotion and marketing,” said Vaynerchuk at the official project announcement in Miami, Florida. “He told the world the Napa Valley was as good as Bordeaux—and Napa Valley has delivered over the last 40 years. If you’re into innovation like Web 3.0 right now, you, too, have an opportunity to leave behind a legacy. What’s built right now will become the foundation of our society in 15 years.”

Custom wine blends were created by prominent winemakers Geneviève Janssens, Andy Erickson, and Thomas Rivers Brown, and sourced from the iconic To Kalon Vineyard in Napa Valley. 

Each bottle is offered exclusively through NFTs, unique and collectible pieces created by Clay Heaton, a generative artist and data scientist based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Heaton said he used 20,000 lines of code to ensure the color depth and authenticity of the tokens.

Each collector will receive a digital transaction record for their corresponding NFT purchase tied to the wine bottle they receive, acting as proof of authenticity that will exist permanently on the blockchain. 

Fine wines have been outperforming colored diamonds, luxury bags, watches and other alternative investment options. Investment consultancy firm Knight Frank reports that the average price of investment-grade wines rose by 13% during the 12 months prior to June 2021. During this period, the average price of a Birkin bag dropped by 3%, while luxury watches and cars recorded gains of 5% and 4%. 

Due to rarity, investing in an NFT-enhanced wine could be even more lucrative, according to Avery Akkineni, President of VaynerNFT. And wine collectors could be more prepared to embrace the concept of non-fungible tokens. Most wine investors no longer hold their bottles physically, since the price of residential wine cellars now reaches upwards of $180,000. They use blue-chip wine stocks, investment companies, and specialized facilities that store wines until they reach maturity.   

The Robert Mondavi NFTs, created by Clay Heaton, act as a “key” to unlock redemption of the wine bottles, as well as exclusive winery experiences. To address the carbon emissions created through the process of minting NFTs, the project has partnered with sustainability platform Aerial to track and offset its carbon footprint.

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