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Sunday Serendipity
The Cellar Key

By Stephen Eliot

We remember when, not so long, we would sit and wonder how in the world we ever managed to get by without fax machines, and, yes, we remember our first computers and the astonishing new-found ability to transmit text with but a keystroke or two. Now, it is smart phones, I-Pads and wireless devices of all kinds and with them have come hundreds if not thousands of applications for cataloging, researching and retrieving wine information that continues to change the way in which we access everything we could possibly want to know about wine.

A new data platform launched late last year by Scanbury and the Lion Nathan Wine Group caught our eye, and it is one of the most potentially useful and innovative ideas we have yet seen. The Cellar Key is designed specifically for smart phones that can read 2D barcodes and essentially consists of a bottle neck tag on which is a digital code. You simply scan the code with a smart phone to download and instantly view a “meet the winemaker” profile, a video winery tour, food and wine recommendations, and reviews about a given wine.

The first wines to come with Cellar Key labels include Pinots Noirs and sparkling wines from Oregon’s Argyle winery, Australia’s Hallet Shiraz and Poacher’s Blend, the Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and Argento’s Argentine Malbec., with others to come in 2011.

As we said, we have seen more than a few wine-information platforms, and this one strikes as one that could become a major factor in the exchange of wine information right at the point of sale. Wines tagged with the Cellar Key can be found in at The Mollie Stone’s and K & L Wines in San Francisco, and we will be watching to see if and when others come on board. The technology looks good on its face, and we suspect that it might well, in one guise or another, be embraced by many wineries and wines. Time will tell.

The Cellar Key claims to allow you to explore a winery in the palm of your hand, and it makes good on that promise. You can learn more and even download a 2D reader at the Cellar Key site. The key to its long-success, of course, will be measured by what inroads it makes across the entire wine spectrum.

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