Forward Slash podcast: Bitcoin tech taking on wine fraudsters

Jeffrey Grosset from Grosset Wines in South Australia’s Clare Valley. Picture: Ben MacMahon
Jeffrey Grosset from Grosset Wines in South Australia’s Clare Valley. Picture: Ben MacMahon

Bitcoin may have not lived up to its lofty promise but experts say the technology underpinning it, called blockchain, is far more valuable and still has world-changing potential.

South Australian company Entrust Global is using a blockchain-type system to help track the authenticity of wine, and fight wine fraud.

It comes amid an ongoing battle for winemaking giant Penfolds, which has been fighting for years against a group of counterfeiters in China who are passing off fake wine as top quality shiraz and cabernet sauvignon.

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Speaking to The Australian for the latest episode of its Forward Slash podcast, Clare Valley winemaker and Entrust Global co-founder Jeffrey Grosset said the technology had the potential to restore trust to an industry that was being threatened by fraud.

“Wine fraud is a major issue, and we don’t know exactly how widespread it is,” he said. “You could be buying a Penfolds Grange and it might be made out of far inferior wine … the label is fake, the wine is fake.

“People can end up in hospital, and they can die, because if someone is quite unscrupulous they (can) just throw anything in there.

“It is our responsibility to pursue this and get on top of it, before it potentially gets on top of us and damages our reputation.”

Last year, Mr Grosset and his business partner David Travers were jointly awarded a $50,000 prize in the Premier’s Blockchain Challenge in March 2019. The pair have also landed $150,000 in funding from the Accelerating Commercialising pool.

Mr Grosset is encouraging other wine companies to join his pilot program, adding that they can create their own free Entrust account to record their immutable Label Integrity Program data.

Entrust is underpinned by US-based Hedera’s public ledger technology. Hedera is owned by 15 technology companies, including Google, IBM, Boeing, LG, Nomura, Avery Dennison, Tata and Deutsche Telekom.

“Bitcoin and blockchain sounds pretty nerdy and scary to many,” Mr Grosset said.

“The tech is available now, and it has only been available for a pretty short amount of time. I think it scares people because they don’t understand it.”

Technology Editor

David Swan is Technology Editor for The Australian. With deep experience across start-ups, business and tech David is uniquely positioned to cover Australia’s fast-growing technology ecosystem and how it’s chan…

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