New Okanagan-developed wine app pairs wines with personal preferences

New Okanagan-developed wine app pairs wines with personal preferences

Founder Alyssa Farr’s goal is to support wine-growing regions across Canada

  • Jul. 26, 2019 8:00 a.m.

– Story by David Wylie Photography by Darren Hull

In the mood for a wine that pairs perfectly with a date night? How about a summer party? A bath? Networking event? Relaxing with your dog?

TasteAdvisor has a few suggestions just for you.

The wine app, which is set for release this summer, helps people discover new wines by making recommendations based on personal preferences. It suggests wines, wineries, tasting routes, events and relevant deals — all based on your taste.

It’s comparable to Spotify, a popular service that learns the kind of music people like and recommends songs that fit the mood.

“I’m glad I’ve had Spotify to help me find songs, but I needed something to help me find wine,” says the Alyssa Farr, who is the Okanagan-based founder of the app.

The app takes into account price-point, style, flavour, and sweetness levels, among other factors. A diverse set of characteristics define the wines that individuals like. Alyssa says she and her team have been working for over a year to find out what makes people decide what they look for in a wine.

“We learn as you go along about what you start to like,” says Alyssa. “You’ll be able to search through the database and look for genres and categories — like best for a wedding, best for a date night, best organic, for my dog and me — so you can try wines that really suit your profile.”

Those who adopt the app are referred to as “tasters” rather than “users.” There’s a “recommended for you” section, with wines that meet each taster’s unique criteria, and tasters can rate wines, take notes, make curated lists (like “Best Reds of the Okanagan”) and then share their lists with friends.

TasteAdvisor will have info on wine prices and availability, like whether a bottle is sold only at the winery, if it’s for wine club members only, or if the item is a quick seller.

“Those are pretty important if you are a lover of local wines,” says Alyssa.

The app helps eliminate the 50/50 chance people take when they pick up a bottle, especially when there are no tasting notes on the label. It also taps into the feedback of its tasters. Alyssa, who herself prefers full-bodied wines, says the team is working on a system to weigh wine ratings more heavily for people who prefer the style of wine they are reviewing.

TasteAdvisor has been in development for three years. During the first half of the process, Alyssa undertook exploration and research to make something that solved industry pain points while simultaneously being fun for its tasters. The second half was spent building the team, setting up the infrastructure and making countless revisions.

There’s a core Okanagan-based team of four behind the app, including Alyssa, whose prior ventures include a construction company and a manufacturing business. The team also includes wine researcher Darcen Esau, branding and marketing expert Linsey Reimer, and marketing, culture and events pro Cheryl Molenaar. The app development team is based in Ontario.

“I’ve never done something like this,” says Alyssa. “My construction background really was helpful because I’m working with the digital builders of this world instead of the physical builders. It’s the same thing, in that you really need to know what your designs are, have a good drawing and make sure you communicate — or you might not end up with the house you wanted.”

Originally from Belleville, Ontario, Alyssa moved to the Okanagan 13 years ago. She initially wanted to be a teacher, but decided instead to learn the skills that would allow her to build businesses.

Taking to heart a suggestion that she look at something in the wine sector, Alyssa was determined to create something scalable and rooted in tech. She dedicated over a year to trying to understand the key problems of the industry.

Most wineries are small, often with too little production for retail and not nearly enough to be sold out of province. Building a winery is capital intensive and takes a long time to get a return. It’s highly legislated, with regulations around both food production and alcohol sales. There are also retail and hospitality elements.

“I wanted to do something that would support them being more sustainable by helping these small businesses — who are running four different types of businesses in one — so that the rest of us can just wander down the road and find things that we love,” says Alyssa.

“I really want to support the entrepreneurial spirit.”

While the app helps tasters find the right wine for their unique palates, it also helps local wineries connect with customers. Alyssa says that’s a win-win and notes that there is nothing else like this on the market.

Currently, Vivino is the most popular wine app available.

“It focuses more on the 100-point system, which is based on the palate of a handful of people,” she says. “Our tagline is ‘Taste What You Like’ because we think wine is what you like it to be. It’s not about snobbery and it’s not about one person’s perspective.”

On the verge of the app’s official launch, Alyssa has been doing walk-throughs of it to get feedback. Prior to its official release, 2,000 people are already interested in downloading it.

The industry launch has given wineries, tour companies and retailers a chance to submit their profiles, tour routes and other info for inclusion on the web and mobile platform.

“Our goal is to support wine-growing regions across Canada and eventually in other countries,” Alyssa says.

“I’m hoping that people will use the app regularly when they go tasting; they’ll use it when they’re at a dinner party — they can tap it, rate it and say, ‘I love this, I really want to get it again,’ and put it in their cellar.

More information is at tasteadvisor.co.

Food and WineLifestyle

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Fernie Meat Market owner Mark Brown with the newest addition to his Griz Pins collection. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Griz Days this weekend!

The 44th annual Griz Days will be mostly online

STA members and non-members alike are encouraged to send in photos of their trail adventures. (Photo contributed by Scott Tibballs)
STA plots another trail for Lunch Network

The network will consist of 6km of trail outside of Sparwood

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

The Elk River Pedestrian Bridge in Sparwood could be at risk without mitigation works. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Sparwood secures grant funding for bridge repairs

The district has secured $703,000 in funding from UBCM

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Most Read