Yes, wine NFTs are a thing. Here’s why they’re ‘buzz’ worthy

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Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) mean different things to different people, and that’s part of their inherent buzz-worthiness. Essentially, NFTs are designed to be fraud-proof digital certificates of ownership and authenticity, held on the block chain.

But in practice, they can be attached to anything from the esoteric and abstract (digital perfume, or a symphony of farts, for example) to the serious and tangible (a Beeple artwork sold for $69.3 million, or a house that sold for $653,000).


The first NFT emerged in 2014, but the market wasn’t mainstreamed until 2020-21, and about 70% of Americans still don’t really understand what an NFT is. But the $22 billion NFT market has drawn increased interest from the world of wine, largely for two reasons: 1) it appeals to the type of consumer (younger, more affluent than average) it is often accused of failing to adequately engage and 2) it ensures proof of authenticity.

In the past year or so, several bold-faced wineries have debuted NFTs, from Robert Mondavi, to Yao Family Wines, to Chateau Angelus and Penfolds. (Read our piece on Mondavi’s drop here). There’s even the World’s First NFT Wine Club, although our attempt to reach out and get more information not shared in the low-on-details high-on-hype press release was met with an ultimately nonresponsive bot.

So we reached out to flesh-and-blood wine experts for their take on whether NFTs and wine are the future of wine, or just a flash in the pan.

Targeting New Demographic + Buzz

“NFTs appeal to a younger generation in the same way any new technology does,” says attorney Asher Rubinstein, a partner at Manhattan’s Gallet Dreyer & Berkey and a member of the Wine, Beer and Spirits Law Committee at the New York State Bar Association. “NFTs are also huge buzz generators. When you have established wineries like Mondavi and Angelus doing NFTs, even if they aren’t instant sell-outs, it will bring attention to these brands from a younger generation that may not even have them on their radar.”

Robert Mondavi Winery x Bernardaud – Bottle Trio photo credit Robert Mondavi Winery

Charlotte Selles, general manager of Robert Mondavi, wouldn’t disagree with Rubinstein. “Following the release of the Robert Mondavi Winery x Bernardaud collection—a limited series of exquisitely designed Limoges porcelain wine bottles holding custom wine blends that we offered exclusively through generative art NFTs—we’re noticing that our newly ‘minted’ customers are not new to wine, rather, that they are new to wine collecting,” Selles says. “The release certainly also led to an increase in Robert Mondavi Winery’s social media audiences, traffic to our website, interest from on or off-premise accounts, etc. Beyond this initial buzz, however, we anticipate that our biggest success will result from our long-term approach to customer relationship management (CRM), as well as the many innovations this collection ignited with respect to wine authenticity, traceability, and ownership.”

Fraud Prevention + The Future

Fraud in the wine industry, as Selles alluded to, is a scourge—an estimated $3 billion one at that. Many see NFTs as the only way to combat fraud, while simultaneously allowing both producers and consumers to invest in future profits, today. “NFTs lock authenticity in on the blockchain,” says Rubenstein. “That means buyers can trace ownership of a bottle from the beginning, something that has never been possible before. But there are so many other things that can be written into the code too. If Napa’s Screaming Eagle, say, writes that they get residuals in perpetuity every time that NFT-linked bottle is sold, they will get just that.” So that $500,000 bottle of 1992 that sold in 2000? Screaming Eagle didn’t see a penny of it but could potentially if it’s in the code.

Rubinstein also sees an opportunity a la Bordeaux futures for the NFT. “A barrel of wine contains dozens of cases,” Rubinstein notes. “You could create NFTs that allow for fractional ownership that you could then sell later. Anything can be written into the code.”

But not everyone is convinced that NFTs will resolve the vexing issues of fraud. “From my view, I still don’t think cryptocurrency, which is linked to NFTs, will make it, but it’s gotten a lot further than I thought it would,” says Rob McMillan, executive vice president and founder of Silicon Valley Bank’s wine division. “I still just can’t see governments allowing a secondary uncontrolled financial system. China has already clamped down on it. It’s too convenient of a place to launder criminal transactions.” And if crypto gets regulated, McMillan believes it will lose its inherent appeal. “I’d say blockchain technology does have a potential place in protecting the provenance of collectible things like art and wine,” he says.

But while NFTs are blockchain-based, the blockchain exists beyond the realm of NFTs. Only time will tell where the market settles, but clearly, a more digital future is upon us for the world of wine making, selling, investing and collecting.

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You won’t believe which celebrities own these wineries


Wineries and vineyards are some of the most popular businesses that celebs like to get into.


It’s no surprise, either. According to Statista, wine sales in the US have grown every year from 2000 to 2018, reaching a peak of over $68 billion in retail sales in the latest year of data!


Celebrities get involved in the wine business in a couple of different ways. The most common is for them to partner with a winery to create a new company, brand, or wine line. On paper, this is a mutually beneficial relationship, where the winery can benefit from the celebrity’s endorsement, and the celeb can benefit from the credibility and expertise of the winery.


So let’s get into it. Below, you’ll find 34 of the biggest celebrities who own a winery, wine brand, or vineyard.


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Winery/Vineyard: Blenheim Vineyards


Dave Matthews bought Blenheim Farm in 1999, a historically significant farm in Virginia. Seeing the old vineyard on the property, Matthews decided to plant new grapevines the following year.


This 30-acre vineyard was Matthews’s first foray into the wine business, but not his last. In 2011, Dave partnered with winemaker Sean McKenzie to create a new line of wines under the Dreaming Tree brand.


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Winery/Vineyard: Ciccone Vineyard and Winery


Ciccone Vineyard and Winery was started by Silvio “Tony” Ciccone, Madonna’s father, in 1995. While her father primarily owns and runs the businesses, the Madonna name has been featured on the wine.



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Winery/Vineyard: Ferguson Crest


Located in Santa Ynez Valley, Ferguson Crest is a small 6-acre winery founded by Pat Ferguson and his daughter Fergie in 2006.


I’m assuming that the wine is… fergilicious.


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Winery/Vineyard: Dan Aykroyd Wines


Dan Aykroyd partnered with the Toronto-based company Diamond Estates to create his own wine label, Dan Akroyd Wines. The wine is no joke. Back in 2015, Dan Aykroyd’s wine snagged a couple of awards at 2015 All Canadian Wine Championships.


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Winery/Vineyard: Andretti Winery


What started as a small winery in 1996, Andretti Winery grew fast. Not surprising to see from the former race car driver!


After partnering with the former CEO of Kmart, a previous sponsor of the racer, the business started to expand its operations.


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Winery/Vineyard: Carmel Road Winery


With the help of winemaker Kris Kato, Barrymore paired up with Carmel Road Winery in Monterey County, California, to create her own line of wine. It featured popular light wines like pinot grigio and rose.


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Winery/Vineyard: Château Miraval


Although Brad and Angelina have split, this château and vineyard in the south of France has lived on. They originally leased the land in 2008 and eventually bought it three years later.


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Winery/Vineyard: Anta Banderas


Almost 10 years ago, it was announced that Banderas had bought at least 50% of this Spanish winery. The Mask of Zorro star couldn’t resist slicing his way into the wine business.


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Winery/Vineyard: Skywalker Vineyards


Would you expect any other name from George Lucas?


This famous vineyard was started over 20 years ago at Skywalker Ranch. The Star Wars creator teamed up with Winemaker Scott McLeod to bring his vision to life.


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Winery/Vineyard: Skinnygirl


Bethenny Frankel is known for her appearances in reality TV shows such as “The Apprentice,” “Martha Stewart” and “The Real Housewives of New York City.” Though most recently, she is known for creating her Skinnygirl brand in 2009, which includes wine, among other products.


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Winery/Vineyard: LVE Wines


John Legend, the legendary musician, created his own brand of wine in partnership with Raymond Vineyards. Created in Napa Valley, the “LVE” of the brand stands for Legend Vineyard Exclusive.


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Winery/Vineyard: Casa Dumetz


Famous actor Emilio Estevez entered the wine business when he started Casa Dumetz near his home in Malibu. However, it appears that as of 2016, he sold said home and vineyard.


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Winery/Vineyard: Two Paddocks


Two Paddocks is a New Zealand Winery started in 1993 by Sam Neill. Sam Neill still plays an active role in the business today and protects New Zealand’s natural resources.



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Winery/Vineyard: Bracco Winery


Lorraine Bracco is the owner of her line of wine, Bracco Wines. The wines were actually featured in the first season of “Top Chef,” and Bracco herself has appeared as a guest and judge on several food-related TV shows.



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Winery/Vineyard: Save Me, San Francisco Wine C


Yes, the band Train started a winery! You can check out what they have to offer here.


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Winery/Vineyard: Tenuta il Palagio


Another musician, another winery. This time, Sting and his wife Trudie Tyler created a winery outside of their private home in the Tuscan countryside south of Florence.


Winery/Vineyard: Jeff Gordon Wines


Alright, we’re entering the sports section of the list, and there is no shortage of athletes who have started wineries. First up is Jeff Gordon, who is the creator of the aptly named Jeff Gordon Wines.


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Winery/Vineyard: Mike Ditka Wines


From da head coach comes another perfectly named wine brand – Mike Ditka Wines. This one is in collaboration with Mendocino Wine Company.


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Winery/Vineyard: Intercept Wines


Charles Woodson, a former NFL cornerback with 65 career interceptions, created Intercept wines a few years ago. Woodson says that his passion for wine developed when in training camp in the Napa Valley when playing with the Oakland Raiders.

This passion eventually turned into him starting his own wine brand.




Winery/Vineyard: Yao Family Wines


Yao Ming, a former NBA star, started his winery in Napa Valley in 2011.

Yao says that his love of wine spurred from dinners out with then-teammate Dikembe Mutumbo in 2004.


From the Yao Family Wines website, “Dikembe introduced Yao to the magic of a great steak and wine pairing, and Yao became an aspiring wine aficionado.”


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Winery/Vineyard: The Calling


Jim Nantz, a famous sports commentator, partnered with Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits to launch The Calling wines. Nantz met CEO Peter Deutsch by chance in 2009, and the partnership blossomed from there.


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Winery/Vineyard: Doubleback Wine


Drew Bledsoe started Doubleback wine near his hometown in Washington in the Walla Walla Valley. Bledsoe partnered with winemaker Josh McDaniels on this endeavor.


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Winery/Vineyard: Wayne Gretzky Estates


Wayne Gretzky is famous for his legendary hockey skills, great quotes (“you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”) and now wine. Wayne Gretzky Estates operates in Canada out of a large 23,000 square foot facility.


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Winery/Vineyard: Ernie Els Wine


South African golf legend Ernie Els started his own winery in 2005 in partnership with winemaker Louis Strydom. The winery is based out of Stellenbosch, South Africa.


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Winery/Vineyard: Passing Time


Dan Marino partnered with another former Dolphins Quarterback to launch Passing Time wines in 2012.


Regarding the name, Marino says, “There’s the subtle football reference. When it’s fourth down in the red zone, and you’re down by six with seconds left, it’s ‘Passing Time.’ And when you’re enjoying a bottle of great wine with good friends, it’s just Passing Time. We think it’s the perfect metaphor for the wine, and we can’t wait to share it with wine lovers who share our passion for great wine.”


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Winery/Vineyard: Arnold Palmer Wines


Although he might be most famous for his lemonade and iced tea combo, that didn’t stop Arnold Palmer from venturing into the wine business as well!


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Winery/Vineyard: Wade Cellars


Dwayne Wade partnered with Jayson Pahlmeyer when starting Wade Cellars. Jayson had shown Wade what a harvest looked like in Napa Valley in 2014, and the former Miami Heat star was hooked, starting his own wine a few years later.


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Winery/Vineyard: Hunt and Ryde Winery


Guy Fieri named his wine label after his two sons, Hunter and Ryder. No stranger to the food and beverage industry, Fieri has started a few different food brands after finding monster success on the Food Network.


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Becca Kufrin is potentially starting one of the most recent celeb wine labels. The Bachelorette star announced in October 2020 that her new wine label would be coming soon.




Winery/Vineyard: Pursued by Bear


Kyle MacLachlan, an actor best known for his role in “Twin Peaks,” started Pursue by Bear in 2005. The winery is also based in the Walla Walla Valley in Washington.


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Winery/Vineyard: Lasseter Family Winery


John Lasseter, the famous American movie director behind films like “Toy Story” and “Cars,” is also in the wine business. He started Lasseter Family Winery with his wife in 1997.


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Winery/Vineyard: Trump Winery


Real estate, casinos, politics, and now wine – the Trump empire has spread across many business sectors. Trump winery is self-described as the largest winery on the east coast.


Winery/Vineyard: Rubicon Estate Winery

This winery and vineyard was originally established in 1879 but was purchased by Francis and Eleanor Coppola in 2011 and rebranded under the Inglenook name.


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Winery/Vineyard: Avaline


Last but not least, Cameron Diaz started Avaline wine with Katherine Power. Their mission is to provide clean and organic wine under the Avaline brand, as they believe this will be the future of winemaking.


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