Collaboration between Australian and Californian companies is set to revolutionise the international wine industry using cloud-based software, the architects of a new product hope.
VinSuite, a joint venture between Australian company VINx2 and Napa Valley-based eWinery Solutions, aims to use cloud computing to streamline the process of getting wine from the vine to the table - and put more money in the pocket of primary producers in the process.
Online wine sales are ubiquitous across the wine trade but account for only about 10 per cent of all transactions that pass through wineries.
According to Richard Kline, CEO of eWinery Solutions, wineries have to use separate pieces of software for all the other facets of their industry.
"The whole software landscape for wineries has really been one-off small companies that take on one little niche of the industry," Mr Kline said.
"There are a lot of moving parts and for every moving part there is a separate piece of software. We are now taking all those moving parts and putting them on a single platform."
Mr Kline said he started eWinery Solutions a decade ago focused on direct-to-consumer sales for local wineries from tasting rooms, websites, and telemarketing.
But Mr Kline discovered wineries also needed to manage production as well as sales to retail, wholesale and restaurants and in addition run accounting products and deal with customer relations.
Enter VinSuite, to be launched later this year, built on NetSuite cloud architecture and combining an eWinery Solutions customer sales product with a business and production platform created by VinX2. eWinery Solutions in effect becomes a sales agent for five-year old VinX2 in the US.
"Currently, there is a lot of clutter for wineries," Mr Kline said. "Now, it will be all internet based. Every aspect of the business."
Wine industry statistics show the US is the world's leading consumer of wine, drinking almost 3 million litres in 2010.
Australia ranks 10th, consuming 530,000 litres.
The US industry alone is valued at $34.6 billion while Australia's domestic market is valued at approximately $2.8 billion.
Russia, Spain, China and Argentina also ranked as top-10 consumers nations according to a study conducted by The Wine Institute, a US industry advocacy group.
NetSuite's chief executive Zach Nelson said software companies had previously been reluctant to address the needs of small to medium-sized industries such as the wine trade because - by its very nature - it consists of many small dispersed businesses.
"Nobody really made software for the wine industry," Mr Nelson said.
"They would say 'Oh my god, it's 10,000 tiny little wineries; I'll never be able to go and install software at them all'.
"Well, now with cloud, it is 10,000 wineries that you don't have to install software at. They open a browser and come to you. Suddenly, that market becomes real enough to invest in. And suddenly a global market becomes available."
Mr Kline said eWinery Solutions has up to 600 customers across the US, Australia, Canada, South America and Europe with plans to expand those markets.
"We're already working to bring the product to Australia," he said.
The New York-based author travelled to San Francisco as a guest of NetSuite.