Serving up bottles of select vine varieties, Picnic Wine Co. was the first winery dedicated to selling wine exclusively for bitcoin. Emblazoned on their bitcoinwine.com homepage, a prominently displayed mission statement reads, “Let’s stay in Bitcoin, shall we? The bigger the ecosystem grows, the fewer reasons to go back and forth between fiat . . . Close the loop.”
A product of the millennial generation,Picnic Wine Co. was founded by three school friends, Grant Hemingway, Jeff Anderson, and Zach Bryant, with a knack for entrepreneurial ventures. Hemingway and Bryant are the winemakers of the business, crafting highlyacclaimed wines, while Anderson handles the business end of the vinting.
Anderson, hailing from Pomona College with a major in Economics, described in a company linkedblog Bitcoin as a currency and why they decided to become the first winery in the US to start accepting it. “[Bitcoin] is controlled by no government, financial institution, etc. Bitcoin is regulated by Bitcoin users,” Anderson explains and says, “No more bailouts, no more Quantitative Easing (1, 2, or 3).” He then described why they decided to start accepting it, stating “ . . . in order for this thing [Bitcoin] to really take off it can’t be traded solely as a commodity. We need ‘utility’ to play catch-up, and that means there needs to be goods and services available for purchase. [It] just so happens, we make a good. A delicious good.”
Another winery,Mondo Cellars located in Paso Robles, California owned by brothers Mitch and Doug Mondo, may not have been the first winery to start accepting bitcoin, but they are the first winery to produce wines by paying for all the wine production costs in bitcoin. Mondo Cellars’ first production ofbitcoin wines involved paying vendors in bitcoin for all the raw materials needed, everything from the wine corks to the glass bottles.
In other words, Mondo Cellars sees the importance of growing the Bitcoin economy in a very fundamental way—buying the necessary inventory materials needed using bitcoin and selling their goods in exchange for bitcoin, through and through. Doug Mondo, co-owner of Mondo Cellars, says, “In creating the first Bitcoin wines, it became apparent to us that forging new niche Bitcoin ecosystems is viable at this time, despite volatility.”
Mondo Cellars was also the first winery to offer investorsfractional ownership of their winery for bitcoin. Investors were offered a2% equity ownership stake in the winery for every 250 bitcoins, with each 250 bitcoin stake also including ownership of a sprawling 82 acres of winery land. In total, the offering allowed investors to purchase up to 30% of equity ownership stake. At the heart of this business strategy, Mondo explains the goal is to keep at least75% of funds in Bitcoin, which again shows Mondo Cellar’s steadfast commitment to the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Mitch and Doug Mondo are also actively working to grow a business-to-business, business-to-consumer bitcoin friendly ecosystem, dubbed the Abundance Marketplace. Mondo says, “This process has a twofold effect: it will create numerous local businesses with active Bitcoin wallets and it will expand the offering of the Marketplace allowing Marketplace attendees to spend their Bitcoins on products and services they use daily.”
Mondo’s approach of focusing on a Bitcoin business-to-business network first may prove to be an effective way to create a truly complete Bitcoin ecosystem—one that avoids using fiat altogether. Mondo says, “The goal is to create a working model whose systems and structure can be replicated worldwide, aimed at benefiting society as a whole.”
Note: Bitcoin figures represent the bitcoin price at the time of this writing.
[Photo: Flickr user Dennis Jarvis]