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Kiwi winetech start-up gains $2m in capital funding

Winely, a Dunedin-based tech startup, has recently closed a capital funding round of $2m to help its mission towards bringing revolutionary technology to the global winemaking industry.

Helping winemakers automate a typically labour-intensive aspect of wine production, Winely has attracted venture capitalists from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States, including investors from companies such as Atlassian and Canva.

Traditionally, the process of wine production involves manual lab-based sampling which is slow, time-consuming, laborious, inaccurate, and can be a health and safety risk. Through proprietary IoT-connected sensors, artificial intelligence, and cloud-based software, Winely provides winemakers with a much more thorough and accurate picture of their wine in real-time, showing them various key metrics through a web app on their computer or other devices.

Co-founder and CEO, Jacob Manning, says the team is ecstatic about the funding round, as it shows faith in their technology and vision of bringing Winely to the global winemaking market.

“We’re excited about speeding up our trajectory in bringing this game-changing technology to the winemaking world thanks to the capital raise,” he says.

The start-up’s first field trials, vintage 2019, were completed in Central Otago. Since then, it has expanded rapidly and has deployed technology across the major wine regions in New Zealand, Australia, and California.

Winely’s customers represent 77 percent of US local market consumption, and although Winely can’t exactly share who they are working with, their customers supply 80 percent of the wines typically seen in the supermarket.

Co-founder and CTO, Abbie Hyde, says the business is another example of Kiwi technology becoming a real global leader in agri-tech.

“We are building the world’s first real-time fermentation analysis platform, using emerging IoT sensors, and AI to give winemakers the information they need to deeply understand their ferments, as they happen.”

Vintage is an intense time for wineries and the difference between good wine and great wine can sometimes be down to getting a certain process right by just a few hours. 

Manning explains wine as a living, biological product which can change rapidly.

“Winemaking is rooted in chemistry and biology; it’s a scientific process and with enough data, we can begin to demystify the fermentation process, deeply understand what is happening, and ultimately: optimise the end wine.

“Current sampling processes mean only one or two data points can be taken a day and that’s not good enough for timely decisions. With Winely, winemakers get real-time data right from their computer. Our technology helps our clients gain a competitive edge.”

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