By Steve Panosian

A few years ago, I made several trips to the wine country of Northern California and was intrigued that each wine maker I met painted a unique picture of their entire process, from growing the grapes to serving their masterworks. My own experience in technology and the many years of selling high-end audio systems provided an understanding and appreciation of what goes into creating a boutique end-to-end product.

Recently, an acquaintance of mine turned me on to a product that combined the world of wine with the world of technology that she thought I would be interested in learning more about. And I have to admit that there is so much involved, not only from a technology perspective, but also an innovative angle on how the retail and hospitality sectors can better serve their clientele while increasing profits and functionality. Eventually I was introduced to Nick Moezidis, Founder and CEO of Napa Technology, and their world of intelligent beverage dispensers.

As I listened to Nick’s story and what was involved in his product development, my eyes were opened to a smarter way to enjoy beverages in any venue – from hospitality to residential – with multiple considerations including preservation, performance and profitability. Here’s our conversation.

“We cracked the code on the idea of serving higher-end wines that nobody thought would be served by the glass. It was the perfect pour for the masses”

Nick Moezidis | Founder and CEO of Napa Technology

Steve:  Good afternoon, Nick, take us back to the beginning and how you gravitated to innovating the beverage dispenser marketplace.

Nick: Thank you, Steve. I studied engineering and worked for a variety of different high-tech firms in Silicon Valley, both startups and well-known names like Hewlett-Packard and Eastman Kodak. As my career grew working for startups, it was in 2004 when Nortel acquired the last company I had worked for which led to a couple of business associates and I shifting our focus and looking at opportunities up in the Napa area, specifically the wine country. Among the opportunities available, we explored the idea of wine bars and the three of us looked at it seriously. We benchmarked Starbucks and its operation, but we realized that coffee costs were many times less expensive than a glass of wine and that pouring wine had many other variables that impacted operational costs. We spent considerable time figuring out a solution that would preserve the wine, measure the pours, and transmit a log of the wine inventory into a database. However, it was all the other challenges we were facing outside of our expertise, like hiring people, and bartenders, selecting locations, and managing a chain of wine bars. It was overwhelming.

What turned out to be the pivotal decision was shelving the idea of opening wine bars and instead, developing the wine dispenser solution. I was flying back from Seattle and reading a Southwest Airlines magazine article about Levi Strauss during the gold rush years of the 1840s. While most people went to California looking for gold, Levi Strauss came to California selling shovels, tents and lanterns to the gold miners and this stuck with me as we started getting nervous about signing leases. This idea of what Levi did and with this market of wine in America growing, encouraged me to sitdown with my business partners and propose instead of opening wine bars, let’s make these machines and sell them to the wine bar owners. Because opening wine bars is cash-intensive and we were engineers and marketing people, we’ve never owned a brick-and-mortar shop in our lives and didn’t know how to run one store never mind twenty of them on the West Coast, and if we get into this machine business and, if it hits, we could always circle back around and open wine bars.

I have to say, each of us has a passion for enjoying great wine and this by itself is what made this project so much fun. This wine dispenser product concept was a culmination of each of us trying to figure out how to enter the wine bar business. And this is the product that we are marketing today and over the last eighteen years, we have made numerous refinements, and we have sold thousands of them worldwide.

So, in 2005 Napa Technology was born, my partners, Morris Taradalsky and Jeffrey Brooks, had experience working at companies like Apple, Brocade and Sony, and it was the mix of engineering and marketing know-how that we could design a smarter solution for operators not only locally, but worldwide.

We saw the opportunity to revolutionize the retail and hospitality industry. The deliverable was to drive profitability for businesses in the bar, restaurant, lodging and entertainment sectors by providing a comprehensive solution that integrates cutting-edge operating controls with leading Point of Sale (POS) systems.

Steve:  So, the commercial application of the wine dispenser addressed control, quality and profitability?

Nick:  Exactly. We realized that this business is no different, our customers’ success lies in effectively increasing revenues by offering products and services that enhance their guest experience, and controlling their costs by eliminating waste, overpouring, spoilage and theft, therefore increasing overall profitability. Over the years, we improved both the wine dispenser itself and developed on the backend innovative solutions that streamline business processes with in-depth operating controls. By automating and enhancing operational processes, we empower our clients to optimize their resources, improve efficiency, and ultimately boost their profits.

Steve:  What drove your sales through the years?

Nick:  We cracked the code on the idea of serving higher-end wines that nobody thought to be served by the glass. It was the perfect pour for the masses. We did a lot of surveying in our fifth or sixth year about who’s drinking wine and where millennials were drinking more and more wine on their first dates, it was very different from when I was growing up. But millennials were drinking more and more wine, so wine bars, as you can look back over the last 20 years, have popped up everywhere. So, we created these machines to pour and serve wine simultaneously.

The only hiccup we faced after shelving the idea of the wine bars and focusing on the machine business, we ran smack dab into the 2008 global economic crisis.

Consumer purchasing trends shifted because they couldn’t afford to eat out or go out for drinks, and what saved us was wine retailers. People were buying bottles of wine and taking it home to enjoy. One of the retail stores that came to us early on was out of Canada, called the SAQ. They had about three or four hundred stores at the time and placed an order for three machines for 90 of their stores at $7,000 MSRP. After that, other retailers in the USA introduced the try-before-you-buy concept, we had a lot of grocery stores that were buying our machines, including Whole Foods, Wegmans, Harris Teeter on the East Coast, a variety of Safeway locations, and names like United and Tom Thumb, depending on where you live.

We were also pioneering self-service wine bars where you walk in, you buy a card, you touch it to a wine dispenser, and you pour yourself a glass of wine. So, this concept of self-serve wine bars was popping up everywhere and there were a lot of people who enjoyed wine that jumped on this idea and bought our dispensers. Each dispenser houses four bottles of wine and these wine bars were offering forty to sixty bottles of wine and that translates to purchasing a dozen or two dozen machines.

Steve:  You mentioned your sales reach is international.

Nick: Selling the wine dispensers to the self-serving wine bar trade and retail opened a lot of doors. Currently, the most fascinating and largest build-out use of our product in the world is 500 bottles on tap in Macau, China, where customers can go in and taste incredible wines by the glass. This is something that won’t be done anywhere else for a long time to come. There’s a video of this installation on our website of 133 of our dispensers.

So, we’re very proud to be able to manufacture in the United States, in Henderson, Nevada, and ship into China. We have sold products internationally since 2010.

If you visit you will find that our dispensers are serving customers in many public venues including hotels and airports here locally as well as internationally.

Steve:  What considerations would a client think about for their purchase and how long is the quality of the wine good for?

Nick: The dispenser is designed to hold four bottles and if you need to store more than four, as long as it’s four daisy-chained together, any number can be added. So, for example, for eight bottles, you would need two dispensers. However, one of the competitive differentiators for us is the fact that we offer our patented Clean-Pour® dispensing cap (extras that can be purchased individually). This enables a way to swap bottles in and out of the dispenser. The dispenser cap is designed to seal in the argon gas filled when the bottle is initially placed into the dispenser.

Sixty days is the length of time the wine will stay fresh and pure while in the dispenser and our test results proved to be much longer. Our conservatively rated sixty-day wine taste quality is achieved with the argon gas system designed for the dispenser. Once opened, the bottle of wine is fitted with the patented dispenser cap, and when the bottle is placed into the dispenser, it is charged with argon gas. The bottle must remain in the dispenser to hold its taste quality because the argon gas charging system maintains the appropriate pressure.

Any bottle removed from the dispenser with the Clean-Pour dispenser cap intact, the bottle will last a week which is about double what you would expect an opened bottle to last.

There’s no cleaning required. The Clean-Pour design eliminates the need for any liquid in the machine itself so for a restaurant owner or a home customer, we eliminated the need to purge wine from the dispenser.

Steve:  Napa Technology sells a version of your dispenser that will appeal to high-end residential channels, please share some of the product highlights.

Nick:  We are introducing the WineStation® Pristine Plus Sommelier Edition, our residential series which serves as the gateway to a luxurious wine experience in the comfort of your home. It is custom crafted with meticulous attention to detail, we see the WineStation products as the epitome of elegance and sophistication. These intelligent, automated and temperature-controlled wine dispensing and preservation systems are designed to cater to the refined tastes of discerning connoisseurs who enjoy wine and entertaining friends and guests. There are two versions of the machine. There is the independent version that sits on your counter and does everything that we’ve talked about, and then there’s a higher-end model or smart Sommelier series that connects to your Internet.

We have integrated with ChatGPT for these high-end residential customers, instead of using the virtual keyboard to type in the wine’s name and profile, the smart series simply requires telling the machine the information about the wine and it auto-populates the screens about wine, its flavors, and flavor profiles.

This article first appeared in the Winter 2024 issue of Technology Designer Magazine. Follow the link here: