Whether it’s in a perfume store or at your local cheese shop, you can sample the product before you decide or not, to buy it. Not at a wine shop because it’s not cost-effective to open a 75cl bottle for one potential customer.
Based on this observation, Tristan Destremau and Grégoire Henry, both wine enthusiasts, have sought a solution to offer a try-before-you-buy option to the consumer. They created the company Vinovae which produces Vinottes, tasting samples for winemakers that respect wines and spirits.
We met with Tristan Destremau at a French Founders event. He recently moved to the Bay Area to develop the American subsidiary of Vinovae.
What is the specificity of your Vinottes?
Our Vinottes are small bottles of 2, 4, or 5cl in an unbreakable and 100% recyclable plastic (P.E.T). Winemakers and professionals send us their bottles directly and we repackage them in the Vinottes format in a total absence of oxygen and at a controlled temperature so as not to alter the quality of the wine.
The name Vinovae comes from Vino, wine, and Novae, innovation, and indeed we had to spend two years in R&D to develop our Vinottes. We have designed and patented a specific machine whose patent is registered in Europe and the United States.
How have you been received by the tasting market?
Wine producers and distance learning organizations in oenology saw an immediate economic interest since with one bottle, we make 36 Vinottes of 2cl. This means 36 customers are reached with the same amount of wine; losses are reduced by avoiding the opening of whole bottles.
We gained credibility when great professionals in the wine field such as The Institute of Masters of Wine in London or the WSET (Wine&Spirit Education Trust) contracted with us. Thanks to them, no one questions our system anymore.
Why did you decide to enter the American market?
We have a big demand from American distributors and we are already working with them from France. They are asking American wine producers to send their bottles to our production unit in Lyon, France. It means after having transformed the whole bottles into Vinottes, we are sending the Vinottes to the United States: from an ecological and economic point of view, we are not good.
It was always planned that we would launch a subsidiary of our company in the US, but the demand is such that we accelerated everything to come as soon as possible.
What are your plans for development in the United States?
We will open a production facility in Sonoma in January 2023. We will soon start recruiting locally except for the key position of production manager. Our French expert will come and start the American line because he knows the machines perfectly well and knows what we expect in terms of quality. We think that the American production will exceed the French one very quickly.
Now that we are located in the US, we can also cover WSET’s customers in the US, which was previously impossible without having a branch office here.
What is the next step?
We are looking to raise funds, about $500,000. We know little or nothing about the US market and we think it is nice to launch the venture with local partners. This will allow us to go faster to hire salespeople in particular. We are looking for individual investors rather than VCs to keep the family spirit of the company.
If you wish to meet Tristan Destremau, Vinovae will be present at the American wine fair Unified which will be held at the end of January in Sacramento.
Feel free to touch base with Tristan: firstname.lastname@example.org