Food tech startup launches somm’thing new for local wine industry 

Local wine lovers will now have 24/7 access to expert advice from a renowned sommelier and lesser-mainstream wines, with the launch of a new food tech startup, Somm on Call.

Somm on Call offers 24/7 access to a sommelier in the form of an easy-to-use digital platform. 

Founded in July 2020 by well-known sommelier duo Spencer Fondaumiere and Tinashe Nyamdoka , Somm on Call is a digital platform that acts as a marketplace and advice portal on the lesser-mainstream (synonym) wines in the country. 

Establishing the startup during the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Somm on Call was born out of a continued need for the services of a sommelier despite restaurants initially being closed. 

In an interview with Ventureburn, the founders of Somm on Call shed some light on how the creation of the new and bootstrapped food tech startup came about. 

“Both our lives had changed significantly due to Covid 19 and the related consequences. Not just us but our entire trade. But in the midst of it we realised that people were still contacting us all the time, looking for wine, looking to chat about wine and it dawned on us, that though restaurants were closed our clientele were still interested. We thus devised a way to break down the traditional wall to the restaurant and satisfy the needs of the curious in a virtual space.”

Somm on Call aims to connect curious consumers with interesting and unique wines that go beyond what is readily available in-store, offering wine connoisseurs access to hidden gems of the wine industry. 

Foundaumiere says that the wine that Somm on Call offers is a curated selection that is a limited and small quantity.

 “We’ve both tapped into our ‘little black books’, driven to the individual farms to meet with the winemakers and choose the really special stuff.”

In addition, the new food tech startup offers expert advice from sommeliers, allowing users to increase their wine knowledge. 

“We’re taking the sommelier experience and expanding it beyond the walls of conventional restaurants, straight to consumers’ mobile phones,” explains Nyamdoka. 

Tailored for wine lovers and the like

As a fully coded reality that leverages off the founder’s significant shared experience as wine aficionados and trained sommeliers, Somm on Call has created a platform that works in unison for both consumers and wine-sellers. 

“We developed the platform to answer a very specific need. We have created a place where we can showcase products using our expert opinion and create a following, a tribe of people that are interested in learning more and trying different things, the curious and don’t always know how to access them and what makes them special,” added the founders. 

Each product that is showcased on the digital platform is accompanied by a unique audio story that provides the consumer with insight into the creation of the wine and why it has been selected to be hosted on the premium platform. 

In addition, users are able to engage with the sommelier founders in various forums, posting questions, and receiving feedback in order to make an informed decision on their purchase and more.

How does it work? 

Users are able to sign up on the platform with their mobile number to receive a text detailing their offers every fortnight. In addition, users are provided with a broad spectrum of information about the wine available. 

Somm On Call currently delivers nationwide, the cost is R50 for six bottles or less, and for orders larger than six bottles, delivery is free of charge. 

This uniquely South African tech startup is assisting the wine industry during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Somm on Call hopes to expand its offering to allow users to hire sommelier’s for private events, adding job opportunities for local sommeliers.  

“In doing so we want to create opportunities for other sommeliers who like us are now struggling to make a living. Once more people start asking questions on the platform we can provide employment opportunities for Sommeliers to do what they are trained to do away from the floor.”

Read more: Cape Town entrepreneur launches local food delivery app
Read more: Egypt-based food-tech startup secures six-figure seed funding

Featured image: Spencer Fondaumiere and Tinashe Nyamdoka, founders of Somm on Call (Supplied) 

Ishani Chetty: Editor
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