It seemed like a good — in fact, great — idea at the time, but after a couple years on the market, the wine startup Kuvée has folded. The company behind what was called “the world’s first smart wine preservation system,” the Kuvée Smart Bottle is, or rather was, a Wi-Fi-connected wine bottle. But aside from being Wi-Fi-enabled and generally smart, more importantly, it promised to be able to keep your wine fresh for up to a month. Plus, it came with a touchscreen that gave wine enthusiasts all the information they needed about the vintage they were imbibing, and even made it easy for folks to order more wine straight from the bottle. But there was a problem from the get-go — it could only accept special aluminum wine canisters made by Kuvée.
When we first wrote about Kuvée in 2016, we wondered if it was indeed the future of wine. And now, two years later, we have our answer. For now, it’s a no.
A big part of the problem was likely the cost. Cartridges of Kuvée wine came in four packs, and if you wanted to buy the smart bottle alongside those four refills, you’d have to pay $178. Sure, you could then subscribe and get more cartridges from a number of different vineyards, but this model was, needless to say, a bit limiting.
In an email to customers earlier this week, the startup announced that it would be shutting down. As Vijay Manwani, the company’s CEO, wrote, Kuvée is now looking for a partner to acquire the company or “leverage the Kuvée technology and bring it to market as part of their own business model.”
A big part of the problem, the executive noted, was last year’s Napa fire, which Manwani said “affected our ability to scale our customer base … and hence our ability to raise the funds required to continue building awareness” of the company. “Therefore, it is with great sadness and a heavy heart we are announcing that all Kuvée business operations will cease effective today,” he continued.
So what does this mean for folks who already have the smart bottle? You’ll actually be able to purchase Kuvée wines at a 50-percent discount until the end of the day on Monday, March 26. And if you have an existing subscription order, you can expect that discount to be automatically applied as well.
The shuttering may come as a surprise to some, as early bird pre-orders on Indiegogo actually sold out in three hours. Plus, the company managed to raise a total of $6 million from big names including General Catalyst and Founder Collective. But unfortunately, for now at least, it looks like this wine preservation system just couldn’t preserve itself.
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