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winepod2.jpgSan Jose company, ProVina, has raised $4 million to market Winepod, a web-based software and wine unit that lets people make their own wine.

This is a wonderful idea, because it appeals to the multitude of wine snobs, as TheAlarmClock puts it — a potentially huge market. It saves you the bother of buying land and toiling away for seven years tending to fickle grapes, which true wine devotees often dedicate their entire lives to. Winepod does everything, from explaining where to get your grapes, to how to mix it all up in a self-contained home-size unit. It controls the heat of fermentation and appropriate aging temperature in a variable-capacity stainless steel tank, with an integrated wine press — all hooked up to your PC software. It lets you make wines like Sonoma Pinot Noir year round. All this for retail price of US $3,499, and there’s a waiting list.

It’s supposed to let you design it all for your own tastes, its investors say. The real taste is supposed to be in the grapes, so the only thing you’re really doing after you get the grapes is manufacturing the taste — heresy to real wine snobs, but something that is actually done by wineries all over the world. Perhaps this company isn’t so snobby after all. Crass is a better word, because the snobs will certainly look down on it.

VantagePoint Venture Partners led the $4 million round of financing. The company’s board includes Cypress Semiconductor CEO TJ Rodgers, known for his winery antics, including regular underground blasting that irritated his La Honda, Calif. neighbors.

Here’s the company’s announcement.



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