New way to thwart fake fine wine launched by San Francisco company

A San Francisco-based company is touting a method allowing a buyer of premium or rare wines to be assured they are getting what they are paying for.

Chai Vault announced a system to verify and then maintain a record of ownership as well as establish the bottle’s authenticity before purchasing it online.

The company’s CEO is Maureen Downey. In an August story in the Business Journal on the theft of wine, she said that beyond theft, fraud is also a persistent issue.

“The reason that wine theft is on the rise is that the wine and spirits market is totally opaque,” she said. “There is no trail of provenance, nothing at the bottle level where people can know who they’re buying from and the legitimacy of bottles.”

Its “Chai Method” can establish ways to authenticate and track wine “enabling buyers to view authenticity and provenance of individual bottles online, before purchase, without having to inspect or scan them. Chai Vault certification also travels with bottles as ownership changes.”

The company’s website states that “certified authenticators” inspect and certify the bottle. The bottles’ “unique ID or thumbprint are inputted at time of production or following inspection" by a TCM certified authenticator in the secondary market.

That bottle’s information exists in the blockchain, able to accessed by a licensed vendor or updated as a bottle changes hands.

“Most current wine and spirits anti-fraud solutions are single layer or cosmetic. Each has failed to address all necessary elements to protect consumers, vendors and producers. Chai Vault certification brings both secure anti-fraud and much needed transparency to wines and spirits transactions. No longer are we reliant on trust - buyers can verify authenticity prior to investing,” Downey states in the company’s announcement,.

The company stated that Chai Vault is being rolled out by vendors in Paris and Amsterdam following bottle inspection by certified TCM authenticators. It added it had about 20 certified and in-training TCM authenticators.

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