In a recent article in Wired, “Your Next Glass of Wine Might be a Fake – And You’ll Love It” by Bruce Schoenfeld, I read about a company that is making reproductions of popular premium wine brands by analyzing the chemistry and selling it at a lesser price than the name brand.
In 2001, Ari Walker started a wine import and distribution company with business partner Kevin Hicks. In 2012, Hicks formed Ellipse Analytics and invested several million dollars in equipment and hired a team of scientists and technicians to analyze consumer products such as baby food, sunscreen and protein powders.
Hicks recognized the potential for wine and began testing some 500 different attributes including esters, acids, proteins, anthocyanins and polyphenols. In 2015, Walter and Hicks started Integrated Beverage Group and set out to duplicate popular wines under the brand Replica Wine. Two years after IBG was formed the brand is now sold in 49 states, including Virginia, and sold through Republic National Distributing Company.
Over the past four years Ellipse has analyzed thousands of wines. The IBG team can match highly respected brands in blind tastings. Red wines are easier to replicate than white wines and can come within a few percentage points of matching the components of the brand name wine at a parts-per-billion level. Inexpensive bulk wine is used as the base and enhanced with additives. Their position is that this is not any different than what a winemaker does from acidifying wines in a warm vintage or adding tannins, blending in other varietals, using commercial yeasts and reducing alcohol. They admit that they cannot duplicate every wine, particularly those from grapes grown in a specific vineyard and lesser known varietals.
You can read the full article at the link below.