Vinnovate uncorks fresh Vino Cap success

by Valerina Changarathil, The Advertiser
April 26, 2016 12:00am

BAROSSA Valley brothers Joshua and Simon Schmidt’s screw cap closure which allows wine drinkers to dictate their own tastes when enjoying a tipple has been judged as the top start-up idea across the Australian and NZ wine industry.

The Vinnovate co-founders last week won the Brancott Estate Winexplorer innovation challenge, taking home the $35,000 cash prize and a chance to work with Pernod Ricard, the owner of NZ-based Brancott Estate, on developing its technology.

Called the ‘Vino Cap’, it has a built-in flavour chamber that the wine drinker manually activates to add complementary flavours or aromas to their wine or reduce preservatives.

“We are in talks with wineries in SA and interstate to trial some of the proof-of-concept prototypes we have,” said Joshua Schmidt, Vinnovate’s chief innovation officer.

Mr Schmidt said it was early days in the development cycle, with the company working with designers and academics on the design of the Vino Cap.

“We are also working with the Wine Research Institute on the solution that will be inside the flavour chamber.”

“Having the opportunity now to take this further, and potentially bring it to market, it’s an incredible feeling,” Mr Schmidt said.

Vinnovate, established in 2012, won a $50,000 UniSA Venture Catalyst grant last year and another $50,000 from the State Government’s South Australian Micro Finance Fund in March this year to progress their innovation.

“The innovation challenge looked for an idea that would fundamentally change the way wine was enjoyed and the idea from Joshua and Simon really fitted this brief,” said Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin, founder of Sydney start-up incubator and investment company BlueChilli, which helped the five finalists refine their business model and pitching skills.

The other finalists 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 Brancott Estate winexplorer innovation challenge was open to entrants from Australia and New Zealand, and had more than 100 innovations entered.