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Cellar Systemization

The eSommelier Wine Management Server lets collectors access their entire wine library at the touch of a button.

One of these days, Ben Rosner and his team at Media Access Solutions are going to run out of innovative software ideas for the custom installation industry. But for now, the inventors of the technology behind AMXs MAX media server are content to keep on creating.

This past year, Rosner, Roni Evron and Jonas Buzzerio, co-created the first all-in-one hardware and software system that allows wine lovers to easily manage their collection of fine wines. Designed as a simple solution, the eSommelier (smmel yy) Wine Management Server lets collectors access their entire wine library at the touch of a button.

After we sold our last content server technology to AMX, we looked at what else we could do with our expertise in user interfaces and searching, sorting and cataloging information, Rosner explained. We felt that there was a need for a product to help wine enthusiasts organize and catalog their wine collections. If you have hundreds or thousands of bottles of wine, then you start to lose track of what you have and where you keep it.

Before eSommelier, wine management consisted of either handwritten cellar journals or clunky spreadsheet-type software programs that required the user to manually enter all of the information about each bottle of wine in their collection. So Media Access Solutions decided to design an intuitive, simple and fun-to-use product to go in the wine cellar, allowing people to enter their wine, then search through and enter notes about it.

The eSommelier system consists of a touch screen interface that has an internal hard drive that stores eSommeliers database of more than 150,000 wines from across the globe. When cataloging a bottle of wine, the user simply selects the country, region, variety, winery and vintage of the wine from a prompted list instead of manually typing in all of this information. It typically takes two minutes to catalog a bottle of wine with eSommelier versus an average of 10 minutes per bottle with a spreadsheet-type

Being familiar with the CEDIA market (Rosner also owns a custom installation company, called e-home, in New York) Media Access Solutions decided that its top-of-the-line version of eSommelier should be integration friendly. As a result, a rack-mountable eSommelier server is available for those that wish to use existing touch screens, and is compatible with both AMX and Crestron home automation systems. An optional bar code scanner is available to catalog wines in the database. Once the bar code is scanned and that wines information entered into the system, subsequent bottles of the same wine can simply be scanned to be added or removed from the system. The MSRP of the eSommelier touch screen server is $8,000, and the rack-mount server is $6,000. The MSRP of the bar code scanner is $1,000. All are shipping now.

Out of the box the eSommelier system is automatically configured for DHCP. From their experience working with media servers, Rosner and his team learned that online technical support was essential to the success of their next product. We want to be able to help someone when they call with a question, Rosner noted. A dealer can actually look into a clients database and see what theyre seeing, talk to them while theyre online, see if theres something wrong inside and make corrections.

Via its integrated ethernet port, the eSommelier system can be accessed from any networked device in the home, as well as from anywhere around the world. This is particularly useful for collectors that have either a second home or store their wine collection off site. Searching for a particular bottle for dinner is also a simple task. Users can search by any parameter that they wish, whether it be country or varietal, to find the perfect wine to pair with their meal. The eSommelier system can also recall the exact location of a bottle in a wine cellar.

Once the bottle of wine has been identified by the eSommelier system, the user is automatically provided with that wines Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast rating and tasting notes. The user can also enter in his or her own rating and tasting notes.

The new product received its own share of rave reviews when introduced at CEDIA EXPO in September. Once again, it seems that Rosner and his team had tapped into a missing technology link for the custom installation industry. A lot of people, primarily from the west coast wine country, were coming up to us at CEDIA saying the every one of their clients have huge wine cellars, but that they werent able to do anything with these rooms, Rosner remembered. Before this product, dealers could only put music in the wine cellar or adjust its temperature, but theres a lot of excitement about the potential for this product.

Rosner has observed that when you start talking to clients about their wine collection thats when they really get emotional. I think it behooves the CEDIA dealer to explore this avenue of connecting with their customer, he explained. One thing Ive learned over the past year of doing this is how passionate people are about their wines…much more than they are about their movie collections.

Jeremy Glowacki is editor of Residential Systems in New York City.