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Wine must go digital

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Cape Classics wine importer believes that the wine industry should embrace the chaos brought by the mobile phone-fueled digital age and move away from traditional retail models.

Embrace the chaos brought by the mobile phone-fueled digital age. That was the message from New York wine importer Cape Classics at a gathering of the South African wine industry hosted at Glenelly Estate in Stellenbosch.

Cape Classics President & COO Rob Bradshaw, speaking to some of South Africa’s leading wine producers at the 15th annual “state of the industry” address, said this new digital fueled economy is disrupting traditional retail models in the USA.

“It is the changing face of retail; using an App on my phone to have goods delivered to my home. People are not going anywhere anymore, they are having everything brought to them – UBER EATS brings you your dinner and DRIZLY brings the wine,” says Bradshaw.

The use of digital platforms like UBER EATS, Blue Apron, Amazon Prime Fresh and DRIZLY are putting independent wine shops under threat and many restaurants are going out of business or turning into commercial kitchens which make food for delivery only.

“The restaurant industry is heading for mass closures – studies show the US has 40-50% too many restaurants. This is a risk to us, because restaurants traditionally do lots of wine business,” says Bradshaw. “Independent wine stores which were more likely to stock our wines are also in trouble. The landscape is changing. Wine is being sold direct to the consumer via a screen, no longer being hand sold.”

The scenario is chaotic, but represents a huge opportunity for South African wine, as it gets the decision blockers out of the way. “The barriers between you and the end consumer are disappearing,” says Bradshaw.

Which is why Cape Classics is investing significant marketing money into digital retail platforms. “We have to be there. To ensure the brands we represent in the US are ahead of the curve,” he says.

So it is critically important that SA wine producers are alive on their digital platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, or their own App. “This is how to make noise and remember this new digital age is all about hieroglyphics, not words. So get onto Instagram as you South African winemakers live in Photographic Utopia,” says Bradshaw.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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