The winning idea impressed a panel of expert judges which included Paula Joye, editor of The Joye blog, and Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin, Founder and CEO of BlueChilli. Sebastian described the judging of the competition as “interesting, exciting and tough” going on to say, “the Brancott Estate winexplorer innovation challenge was looking for an idea that would fundamentally change the way wine was enjoyed and the Vinnovate idea really fitted this brief.”
Joshua and Simon presented a screwcap closure with an in-built flavour chamber that the wine drinker manually activates to add complementary flavours or aromas to their wine. This allows wine drinkers to customise the flavour of their wine to their own personal taste or to match a specific occasion.
Patrick Materman, Brancott Estate Chief Winemaker and one of the winexplorer judges said “I was intrigued by this idea as soon as I saw it, and after hearing Joshua and Simon pitch, I could immediately see the potential. We see this as a way to help people explore different flavours, aromas and textures in their wine to enhance the wine-drinking occasion.”
Vinnovate beat out four other finalists, which included a cellar management system based on actual storage conditions; an online, self-directed wine tasting adventure; a wirelessly integrated stopper to track wine quality in open bottles and a personalised wine tourism app. The pitch event followed an innovation bootcamp where all five finalists worked with start-up incubator BlueChilli to refine their business model and their pitching skills.
"We formed Vinnovate in 2012 with the idea of wanting to positively change how people enjoy wine, which was a bit of a harebrained idea. The whole experience of the winexplorer challenge has really validated the idea for us” says Joshua Schmidt, Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Vinnovate. “Having the opportunity now to take this further, and potentially bring it to market, it’s an incredible feeling and we are really thankful for Brancott Estate for running this challenge”
The Brancott Estate winexplorer innovation challenge was open to entrants from Australia and New Zealand, and had more than 100 innovations entered. In March, five finalists were announced, these were:
• Joshua Schmidt and Simon Schmidt, Vinnovate (winner)
• Ross Maher and Amy Luscombe, BYO Vine Guide (People’s Choice winner)
• Jamie Metcalfe and Matt Rose, Sipple;
• Tim McTaggart, Wineminder;
• Scott Williamson and Nick Wyatt, Your Own Wine Adventure
These finalists participated in an intensive bootcamp with startup incubator, BlueChilli before pitching to a judging panel comprising Patrick Materman, Brancott Estate Chief Winemaker, Paula Joye, editor of The Joye blog, Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin, Founder and CEO of BlueChilli and Paulina Larocca, New to World and Creativity Director, Pernod Ricard Winemakers. The winning team was awarded $35,000 to assist with further development of their innovation.