A small high-end winery in North Canterbury, New Zealand, is the first wine business in the southern hemisphere to accept bitcoin.
The decision was made to ease transactions for the company’s strong domestic and international customer base.
Pyramid Valley Vineyards produces collectable wines in New Zealand and sees the new currency as a development in line with its innovative approach to the wine business. Just last week, California’s Mondo Cellars winery also embraced bitcoin by selling shares to fund expansion of its operations.
The Rollingdale winery in British Columbia, Canada, has traded bitcoins for bottles since February, and was the first in North America to do so. The Picnic Wine Company in California’s Napa Valley also announced it would accept bitcoin back in April.
Caine Thompson, managing director of Pyramid Valley, explained: “We live in exciting times, and bitcoin is a movement that is gaining huge international traction as a currency that is borderless.”
For a business based in a small and fairly isolated market, that is looking to sell to all parts of the world, a borderless currency has a lot of appeal.
“We’re increasingly getting requests from our international customers to be able to pay with bitcoin, particularly for our exclusive Home Collection wines. They don’t want to be worried about exchange rates and costly transaction fees.”
Thompson said his company had “positioned itself on freedom and ‘outside of the square’ winemaking and thinking,” adding that this matches the kind of “disruptive innovation” taking place in other industries.
“Bitcoin is a logical fit that we need to be a part of. As a company that is increasing our customer base around the world, it makes sense to accept payment in bitcoin, especially when we sell our wines across the globe direct through our website.”
Pyramid Valley began accepting bitcoin on 9th December 2013. Thompson claims results over the holiday period were healthy, both online and in-person via payments with bitcoin smartphone apps.
“We have been surprised with level of interest in bitcoin and the amount of people that are purchasing with bitcoin. In the December period bitcoin sales accounted for 9% of our online sales, which is significant. Transactions are predominantly from New Zealand, with growing purchases each month from offshore customers.
“It’s been a fascinating experience where we have accessed a whole new market of customers who are purchasing with bitcoin who are now huge Pyramid Valley supporters.”
Pyramid Valley Vineyards was established in 2000 by Mike and Claudia Weersing and has quickly become one of New Zealand’s leading and “most provocative” wine producers.
Thompson concluded: “We continually challenge the status quo, push boundaries and the current paradigm. When this is at the core of your culture, it makes for one incredibly exciting company with freedom.”