French wineries blow off dust from barrels to embrace the digital revolution

The French wine industry is often associated with concepts such as authenticity and . It’s not immediately apparent that it’s a leader in innovative practices. The French wine industry’s deep-rooted traditions do not prevent it from finding innovative ways to promote its know-how and reputation and encourage engagement and exchanges with the sector.

The challenge for France is both cultural and commercial. The European Single Market was designed to facilitate the “free flow of goods and services”, including all of the associated risks and opportunities. In July 2014, a French Senator introduced a bill that emphasized the importance of shaking off the dust from the wine industry.

In order to protect the future of the wine industry, we must empower key players in the industry to use new technologies to promote the patrimony and culture. This promotion is urgent in the context of global competition, and conflict between winemaking techniques that are vastly different.

The text concludes that responsible enjoyment of wine, and its culture, requires knowledge and education. Today’s communication must be digital.

It’s true that the use of digital tools solely for commercial purposes is a growing trend. In fact, this year alone, more than 10 percent of wine sold in France was sold through e-commerce sites. Even double-digit sales increases are often offset by unexpected events in an unpredictable and highly competitive marketplace.

Digital Vineyards

It is therefore a challenge to find a way to use digital media in order to communicate the essence of wine. Wine, with its unique character and evocative power, occupies a special place in our culture. Online tools should not only accurately convey the image of a wine, but must also create an experience as vivid, if possible, as the real thing.


A virtual and physical environment can be interacted with by aficionados through augmented reality. This includes vineyards, cellar exhibitions, and catalogs.

Bordeaux’s cite du vin is one example. It promises “unique experiences” through immersive interactive displays and virtual settings. The Cite des Vins also offers these interactive features in Burgundy. These two sites use digital technology to support the three phases of the wine experience – awareness, exploration, and appropriation.

Digital media, by immersing us into the world of wines, can enhance our subjectivity and allow us to rediscover magic, or “the willful suspension of disbelief,” as Coleridge described it. Virtual tours can be made using drones to capture aerial images and then remodel them. Digital media offers the chance to rediscover and live in the moment while discovering the world through new and exciting ways.

Chateau Puech Haut is an example of augmented reality. Avina Conseil

Narrating the history of wine

Digital media are at their best when they play a narrative part. Wine tourism is the most dramatic example. Vignobles et Decouvertes is given to the best of the 10,000 wine cellars, vineyards, and other facilities that welcome over 8 million visitors each year. Many regions have already developed digital apps that allow users to tour vineyards (Smart Bordeaux), follow wine trails and learn about local events (GeoVina Languedoc-Roussillon), or get involved in wine tourism (OEnotourisme Bourgogne). Vinoga is an online game that combines social media and e-commerce to place the user in the shoes of a winemaker.

There is still room for improvement, but these apps show that a website with basic information (where, what, who, and how) no longer suffices. In France, certain regions have been working to kick-start this trend. A Nantes-based company, Komka Vigneron, offers a website that can be customized to meet the needs of vineyards and winemakers. Effective marketing is not just about digital tools. It also requires a thorough understanding of the region’s potential, both nationally and globally.

Apps, websites, and other experiences like these can be used to create communities of wine lovers. They all share a desire to become more aware of the wine and food we consume, take control, and defend it.

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