Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
08.10.2012  
 

Wine Gadget Dodges Sharks

Air Cork preserves wine, inventor preserves independence

 
by Jane Firstenfeld
 
 
air cork eric conti
 
Since appearing on "Shark Tank," innovator Eric Conti has renamed his wine-protection product Air Cork.
Mason, Ohio—If you watched ABC’s “Shark Tank” season 3, episode 4, you might reasonably have concluded that Eric Corti sold his wine-preserving device to investors Lori Greiner and Mark Cuban for $400,000. But in the reality TV world, that’s not how it works, and that’s not what happened.

The show first aired in February, and was rebroadcast in June. It portrayed tense negotiations between the star investors and the hopeful inventor. Corti was looking for seed money to build inventory and sales of what was then called “The Wine Balloon.”

He and a partner had invested $65,0000 and sold some 700 balloons at $22 per unit when Corti taped the show last summer. He entertained offers starting at $40,000, and that quickly built to a $600,000 bid from Greiner and Cuban seeking 100% interest.

Reluctant to sell, Corti mulled the prospect; by the time he’d agreed to give up his creation, the impatient Sharks had slashed their offer to $400,000. In the end, Corti accepted. “I wanted to say ‘no,’” he told Wines & Vines. “But if I said no, I’d never hear from them again.”

Done deal, right? Leave your balloons behind and move along to your next inspiration. Wrong. “Whatever happens there isn’t binding,” Corti said. “You and the Sharks can do due diligence” after the fact.

After sober consideration, “I told Lori I couldn’t sell it for $400,000,” Corti said. He and a partner ultimately retained full ownership and control of the company, and today, the businesses is growing. They’ve renamed it “ Air Cork.”

So what is it?
Simple but ingenious, Air Cork basically is a reusable balloon that’s inserted in a partially consumed bottle of wine and inflated with an attached hand pump until it touches the sides of the bottle, blocking the entrance of excess oxygen.

On “Shark Tank,” it vaguely resembled an arcane medical device; since its star turn, it’s been redesigned. The hand pump now is in the form of a grape cluster, in a hue resembling the Napa Cabernets favored by Corti and his wife.

The U.S.-manufactured balloon is crafted of a natural rubber, bio-based latex that meets FDA standards for food contact. “Air Cork will not alter the taste of your wine,” the company’s website states. The balloon typically remains inflated for three days. “The beauty is that you can give the pump a couple more squeezes before it loses its seal, if you need a couple of extra days.” The company recommends storing Air Corked bottles vertically at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Business is ballooning
After the “Shark Tank” episode first aired, 70,000-case Robert Hall Winery of Paso Robles, Calif., ordered some for sales in its tasting room. “We did try it out; it’s pretty neat and the Air Cork package is nice,” said hospitality manager Kristin Odenwald.

Air Cork did not exactly fly off the shelves, though. Two months after its arrival in April, Hall had only sold one. “I think they’ll pick up eventually,” Odenwald said.

Since then, Livermore powerhouse Wente Vineyards (850,000 cases) sent a purchase order “after extensive testing in the winery,” according to Corti. West Wind Farm & Vineyard (1,500 cases) of Max Meadows, Va., also ordered a supply.

In July, the partners took the Air Cork to the massive Atlanta Gift Show. “We had quite a few great new orders, including 40 new retailers across the country,” Corti said. They’ve signed on with a distributor in Canada and have heard interest from businesses in both Europe and New Zealand.

By June, sales had climbed to between 8,000 and 9,000 units; since then the figure has reached nearly 15,000, even with the retail price increased to $23.95.

Contestants on “Shark Tank” are not paid to appear, but Corti feels the exposure was worth the risk; he’s still in communication with would-be investor Lori Greiner, who regularly hawks products on QVC, a possible outlet for Air Cork.

But first-time inventor Corti, whose profession is in construction management, and his minority partner, who’s in sales, have kept their day jobs—and their company.

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $557 million
5%
$7,577 million
6%
July 2013 $533 million $7,128 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 $61 million
9%
$1,674 million
10%
July 2013 $56 million $1,517 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
July 2014 312
10%
222
19%
July 2013 283 187
     
 
MORE » Released on 08.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • August 30 - September 1
     
    Columbia Gorge Open House Weekend
     
  • September 5-6
     
    Windy City Wine Festival
     
  • September 11
     
    Women for WineSense "Women in Wine"
     
  • September 12
     
    Direct to Consumer Wine Sales
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Ledger David names first winemaker »
 
What a joy to have Kiley on the team! A lot of exciting things happening...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Useful Spanish for Wine Harvest »
 
you misspelled "zona" under Loading Area
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Early 2014 Grape Harvest Begins »
 
Thanks for mentioning Temecula and the South Coast appellation in your article. It is great...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
All these arguments could be levied by any industry associated with any gTLD, new or...
Reader: Doug Barnett
 
Article: Wineries May Lose Internet Domain Dispute »
 
Do brands get hijacked now? Even though .wine does not yet exist, are there false...
Reader: Larry Chandler
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Sales Representative
 Daly City, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Fine Wine/Spirits Sale...
 Albany, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Wine Store - Sales Ass...
 New York, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Retail Store Manager
 Centerville, MA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Importing / Purchasing...
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 Customer Service / Adm...
 Napa, CA
General Administration and
 Visitor Center Represe...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Administrative Assista...
 Santa Rosa, CA
General Administration and
 Assistant General Mana...
 City Of Sonoma, CA
General Administration and
 Tasting Room Associate
 Livermore, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.