Portugal Overcomes Pride to Acknowledge an Unexpected Wine Leader | Catavino
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Portugal Overcomes Pride to Acknowledge an Unexpected Wine Leader

Last year, I wrote an article on how Spanish and Portuguese wineries could succeed online. I mentioned words such as passion, culture, adaptability and history, which are all powerful reasons why Iberian wineries have a chance to succeed in Social media, but I’m afraid it’s not enough. I left out a key word that holds most of us back from succeeding, fear. Fear that if they try something and fail, everyone will laugh or pity them. Pride is extremely important in Iberia, often times dictating someone’s decisions and actions. From having your plumber blame the mold in your bathroom on your “poor cleaning”, as opposed to his poor grouting efforts, to the winery that won’t sell you their wine because you’re not important enough to carry it in your shop. But like nature, there are often powerful antidotes nearby when we’re presented with the world’s most dangerous poisons. In this case, the poison for Iberia is pride, and its antidote is the press.

People pay attention once your name appears in a publication, either appropriately or simply as a fluke. Make the front page of El Mundo for a comment about the latest weather trend and your phone won’t stop ringing off the hook. Cure cancer but forget to put out a press release, and you’ll be ignored. I’m cognizant that this isn’t just an Iberian affliction, but it can be very frustrating to anyone living here wanting to believe that their resume matters. In the case I’m about to describe, the pride was in the form of a long historied institution not wanting to acknowledge an upstart “youngster” who tried something new. Pride blinded them from seeing the ingenuity and innovation of his project, until this past weekend.

On Saturday, a close friend and business associate, Andre Ribeirinho, was named Wine Personality of the year by Diário de Noticias in Portugal. The award was given based on Andre’s work with his partners, Emidio Santos and Andre Cid, on the website Adegga.com, as well as his creation of the AVIN. If you’re not familiar with either of these projects, please take a moment to look at their respective sites. I’ll wait here…

What do you think? We at Catavino have been supporting Adegga for many years, with over 1,000 wine notes entered among our various writers. The exciting part is that Adegga is about to go big by offering tools for major wine events. Imagine going to a wine show and having all the wines immediately accessible on your iphone or laptop. Adegga can do that. It also has a community of wine lovers sharing information, tasting notes, and asking questions. The most appealing aspect is that it’s a place to talk about wine, not necessarily dissect it. Put another way, Addega is a “wine drinkers” community, versus a “wine spitters”.

Now onto the revolutionary tool, the AVIN. Originally designed as a means for Adegga to manage its data so that wines with similar names were not confused or mislabled, it has now evolved into so much more. The AVIN is a unique 13 digit number, which acts like an ISBN for wine. As it grows, it has the potential to eliminate so many of the wine world’s problems, from misspellings to multiple label confusion among one producer’s wines to preventing fraud. It’s also becoming independent of Adegga by moving its database to an external location. In time, a board of advisors will be chosen to ensure an open and secure project – Gabriella and I have been the first to be nominated. We’ll also work to have regions beyond DOC Tejo in Portugal adopt the AVIN as a part of their lableing laws, in addition to wine producers who will have now have a consistent method of identifying their wines. This is the future of wine information!

Portugal knew about Andre before this award, but it wasn’t until a newspaper and Anibal Coutinho rightfully awarded Andre with Wine Personality of the Year that Andre’s phone started ringing. Andre, and the whole Adegga team, deserve this, and I raise a glass to toast this exciting achievement. However, I also want to raise a glass to Portugal for creating an environment where someone like Andre can rise up and create something that is potentially a game changing idea. Portugal you have a very bright future, just don’t wait until the press tells you so.

Finally, I want to say that this act of letting pride stop something great from happening is definitely not unique to Iberia. The AVIN a project, which is now open and collaborative, is still looked upon by some as an impossible dream. I consistently hear that it won’t work, as opposed to “how can we make it work”. The AVIN works. It’s extensible, and if we can all put aside our pride, it’s a tool that can change the wine world. No more data errors. No more missed vintages. No more confusion about strange spellings. If you don’t believe it, send us your questions and we’ll answer them. And to those of you who still doubt it’s success, I say BS! As Gary Vee would say, “you’re not going to crush it if you don’t believe”.  Wine data standards today are a joke. This needs to change. Here’s a solution. And it has offered it up as a gift for all to share and profit from.

Congrats again to Adegga, Portugal and the wine world,

Ryan Opaz

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