Ava Winery – a Startup

News Opinion Wine Wine Science Winery

What is a winery? It is defined as an establishment where wine is made, and wine is defined as an alcoholic drink made from fermented grape juice. So can you make wine without grapes? Yes, says Ava Winery, a San Francisco startup who is looking to make a synthetic wine by combining water, flavor compounds, and ethanol. According to a story by Chris Baraniuk, (http://bit.ly/1Xh4ZKJ ) Mardonn Chua and Alec Lee came up with the idea while visiting Chateau Montelenain in California’s Napa Valley in 2015. Driven by the desire to drink wines that they couldn’t afford. Within days of this visit, Chua began work with ethanol and flavor compounds and now they believe they have a product that mimics the taste of the sparkling Italian white wine Moscato d’Asti.
Does it? I haven’t had the opportunity to taste it myself, but others have said, no, not yet.
So can Ava Winery be a winery? Can they use that name? Again, I would say no.


Are we ready for the Jetson’s version of the future? Instant dinners and haircuts and wine? I think not. Will we ever have a synthetic wine that is the match of a quality wine? Have you ever had a TV dinner steak that tastes anything like a T-Bone? Me either.

Is this what we have to look forward to with all the high tech innovation into the wine world? I hope not. I love technology. But stop please. There are so many products being put forward like Kuvee’s smart bottle, D-Vine, Somm, all of these are described as the Keurig of wine. Do we want or need a Keurig of wine? Are we in so much of a hurry? Are we unable to spare the time to uncork a bottle? A bottle that is full of grapes that have been growing for decades, maybe a century or more, skillfully crafted, and aged for months or years in barrels made from oak trees that may have been growing for as long or longer than the vines that provided the grapes they hold.

There are already so many shortcuts taken with some mass produced lower quality wines with oak chips and all kinds of added flavors and additives, do we really need to put it all in a K cup? I wish I could carry a dry powder while backpacking that allowed me to make a box wine quality wine by adding it to water. If such a product existed, I would buy it, and drink it, in the mountains, far beyond the reach of a wine bar. Would I make a quart of it like Tang on a Tuesday night? No, no I would not.

Let us all agree that wine is a product of the earth, not the lab.



Steve spends his days living in the software world of Silicon Valley, dreaming of a day when he can live as a wino hobo riding a wine train.