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Lompoc man with cerebral palsy develops easy-to-use local winery app

Posted at 7:53 AM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 12:44:56-04

With more than 100 wineries in Santa Barbara County, picking a vineyard can be a tough task. A Lompoc man has decanted the process of finding which one is right for your next outdoor, socially distant wine tasting.

Josh Walton has developed a new app, VineCrawl, that aims to guide your trip like a sommelier. He came up with the idea when wine-tasting with his family.

"We didn't know which wineries were open and what they offered," Walton said.

Walton has cerebral palsy which limits his speech and movement. He defies people's expectations in a gratifying way.

"They don't think I can do a lot," Walton said. "But when I show them what I can do, they are amazed."

Walton earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Springfield online and began creating iOS apps and websites for fun. He has created four apps and three websites. Now Walton's thinking bigger picture and hopes VineCrawl can age like the wine it helps people seek.

He has a computer set up that helps translate his vision from code to your phone screen.

"He'll have the iPad sitting up and he'll actually push down on the buttons with his nose, and you can imagine how long that takes," Matt Grant said. "The other is a computer he has on the side that can sense where his eyes are at so when he looks at the characters, he uses a foot pedal and it will do one character at a time. So watching that it seems like 10 times less the speed if we were actually typing but amazing what he does with it."

Grant is a longtime friend of Walton. After 11 years of friendship, he helps Walton get his message across to others who may have a difficult time understanding him.

"He has taught me so much about patience and just being patient with people with disability," Grant said. "He's a very close friend."

While Walton has done the heavy lifting early on, VineCrawl has an easy to use interface, making it accessible for winery owners to claim their own pages and infuse more details with wine lists, memberships, events and hours of operation.

"He'd like his app to be the go to for that," Grant said.

People can leave reviews and photos of their trips. VineCrawl is free and available for download in the Apple App Store. You can learn more here.