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In pictures: Wine on tap is better, entrepreneur says

Connoisseurs reluctant to give up their hold on the bottle

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Montreal entrepreneur Jean-François Bieler sells systems that dispense fine wine from taps similar to those used for draft beer. The taps are connected to temperature-controlled wine barrels. The problem is that restaurant owners are reluctant when he first approaches them. “Without a doubt the greatest obstacle for me to overcome is perception,” Mr. Bieler says. “Restaurant owners will say their clients will never buy wine on tap. There’s a lot of snobbishness, even though it’s a better product when it comes right out of a barrel.”

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

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Wine taps in Versay’s showroom. Versay buys wine from around the world and installs the kegs for clients who have purchased the taps. The average installation costs about $2,500, and the barrels run between $260 and $520 for the equivalent of 26 bottles of wine.

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Bieler’s wines range from Italian reds to chardonnay from Vineland Estates in Ontario’s Niagara region.

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Zache Hall, an enologist, adds more wine to a container of sangria he is making at Versay’s offices and manufacturing plant in Montreal. Versay’s owner, Mr. Bieler, thinks he will have better luck doing business in Ontario, because restaurant owners are more business savvy. In Montreal, he says, “they’re all very passionate. They don’t want to do things differently.”

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

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Mr. Hall checks on the container of sangria he is making.

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Mr. Hall performs a taste test at Versay’s headquarters.

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Mr. Bieler says his sales figures are meagre in comparison to those of the U.S. operation that inspired Versay. Owned by Mr. Bieler’s cousin, that New York-based wine-on-tap business ships 4,000 kegs a month. “There are many places in the world where wine on tap is accepted and very popular. But it’s still hard to convince people when you first tell them about it,” Mr. Bieler laments.

Christinne Muschi/The Globe and Mail

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