Vinophonics was the world leading tech innovation on show at Sonar+D
Vinophonics was the best atraction on show at Sonar+D festival, according to the prestigious Barcelona-Metropolitan website.
This is what they published about it:
Wine, cryptocurrency and an analog synthesizer. It sounds like the start to a particularly techy joke, doesn’t it? Either that, or an odd night which involves a little too much of the former, a reckless spending of the thing in the middle, and ending up, probably unbeknownst, with the latter. But these three seemingly antithetical things are bound together by the Mendoza based Costaflores vineyard, whose stall I visited at Sonar+D. But this is no ordinary vineyard: Costaflores has two tech-focused projects related to its organic grapes that combine wine with music and tech in the most delightfully unexpected ways.
My interest in this stall was sparked by its owner, Mike Barrow, a US born IT technician now based in Mendoza, who stood sampling his product amid a throng of wires, bleeps and flickering lights. I was intrigued as to what his glass of wine could have to do with the intimidatingly large Antonus 2600 synthesizer he stood next to; wine and a dense web of electrified cables don’t feel like two things that should ever really mix. We got chatting and Mike took me back to the start, to what the vineyard is all about, and his big ideas behind it.
All of Costaflores’ bottles of strictly organic wine are sold as “crypto assets,” he told me. This means that you can only buy them online using cryptocurrency, that new frontier of internet economics. Selling them like this is part of Mike’s “Openvino” project, which he hopes will bring “extreme transparency” to his business, with all accounting, pricing and growing statistics accessible and visible to his customers. As such, Costaflores is the world’s first open source winery, harnessing all the benefits of the blockchain space—the online peer-to-peer record of data upon which cryptocurrencies run—to shake up traditional business models of the wine industry. Once you buy an online “crypto token” for a bottle of the delicious Costaflores 2018 MTB Vintage, you get a share in the company—“You drink it, you own it,” as Mike puts it.
You’re probably wondering where the synthesizer fits into all of this; if the crypto element to Costaflores is all business, then the synth is the vineyard’s artistic side. As part of Costaflores’ extreme transparency model, a number of IOT (Internet of Things) censors are dotted around the vineyard, measuring everything from soil pH to air temperature, which are displayed online for all to see. Mike uses this data as the basis for what he calls Vinophonics,” the project that binds wine, IOT and the synthesizer. The raw data from the IOT censors is input into the synthesizer and interpreted as a variety of live, changeable feeds based on data from the grapes. These are then converted into frequencies on the synth’s interface. You can then fiddle with the synth’s oscillators, filters and arpeggiators to alter the sound and create different rhythms and musical motifs. I heard this first hand, as Mike made spiraling melodies dance from the synth which changed and evolved in real time based on the data it was getting live from Mendoza.
Openvino and Vinophonics are fascinating projects: at first seemingly gratuitous, but weirdly compelling. Mike also has a number of plans for the future of Costaflores—his ambition and passion for random oddities related to wine seem to know no bounds.