Technologyby Andrew Adams
If you have the time, resources and vision for a Napa Valley winery, you might as well go big and go for the best.
The new Davis Estates winery, which became fully operational for the 2016 harvest, is located in the northern half of Napa Valley, just south of the city of Calistoga, Calif. Founded by Mike and Sandy Davis, the estates referenced in the winery’s name include the 114-acre property on which the winery stands, a contiguous 44-acre property the Davises purchased in 2012, after they bought the first property in 2010, as well as vineyards in the Carneros and Rutherford appellations and a planned vineyard on Howell Mountain.
Howard Backen and his team at Backen Gillam & Kroeger Architects designed the winery, grounds and interiors of the estate, which is a blend of rustic farm, luxurious Napa Valley hospitality and sophisticated winemaking. Ledcor Construction built the winery.
The backgroundREAD MORE
The wine and spirits industry did not wait for globalization and the growing power of China to discover the charms of fake and illicit bottles. These days, however, the problem of counterfeit wine is emerging with renewed intensity for the sector. The counterfeiters (often from Asia) really do exist, and some of their products are a potential hazard for public health.
The first installment in this two-part series offers information about which wineries counterfeiters like to target, what materials wineries can protect and the types of anti-counterfeiting technologies that are available.
Counterfeiting in the wine marketREAD MORE
July 2014Solids are skimmed off the top of the GB BevTec flotation unit offered by American Tartaric Products.
Does technology make a better wine? This is a question I get asked a lot when I introduce visitors to our teaching and research winery at the University of California, Davis. At UC Davis, we have equipment in place that allows us to carry out “precision winemaking.” Precision winemaking is important in the research world, as it allows us to investigate the winemaking processes using strict control of experimental variables—notably temperature control, ability to clean and precise mixing regimens. Without this ability to control experimental variables, the results of research projects are put in question, leading to skepticism about their conclusions.
Getting back to the question of whether or not technology makes better wine, I ask the judge to allow me to rephrase the question: How does this equipment allow us, as winemakers, to make a better wine? The answer is that technology in winemaking is a tool in itself, a tool that allows the winemaker to interpret a process and more efficiently make wine. The notion of making better wine is of a subjective nature. Winemaking has many variables that ultimately affect overall quality. Clearly a distinction must be made as to the overall outcome. We all want to make better wine, but technology can contribute to the production of both bad and good wines, it’s all in how you use the tool.
One of the first steps in understanding how to select and use various technological advancements is to identify your goals and prioritize them. Labor, energy and water have become very critical in recent years. Many industry vendors are focusing their development strategies around these resources. From a customer’s point of view, you are going to arrange these assets based on your goals. If your labor costs are high, or labor is in short supply, it comes in at No. 1. If your infrastructure costs are high, and you are looking to save on energy and water, labor savings might not be as important—but if it was a secondary benefit, that would be fine also.
There are many new products on the market for a range of applications. At the 2014 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in January, reservation-only tours spotlighted some of the most innovative technological advances in winemaking (with specific focus on wine processing).
Harvesters that sortREAD MORE
August 2013Asurprising number of companies have entered the business of protecting products from tampering and counterfeiting. Anyone who has ever seen a street vendor pushing a knockoff Louis Vuitton purse, Apple device or Rolex watch can understand why these brands have moved to protect their products from losing value in the marketplace—not to mention sales—due to these predatory practices.READ MORE
March 2013In the course of more than three decades of distinguished winemaking in California’s Santa Barbara County, Ken Brown washed his share of barrels and pulled his share of hoses. These days, he mostly writes work orders, never shovels out a tank and still makes outstanding, sought-after wine. He is not complaining.READ MORE
Long Shadows is a truly unique winery, and director of winemaking and viticulture Gilles Nicault faces a unique challenge: The winery in Walla Walla, Wash., is the result of a partnership between Washington state wine legend Allen Shoup and some of the most renowned winemakers in the world looking to make outstanding wine from Washington grapes. Nicault, who formerly worked at established star Woodward Canyon Winery, is charged with producing wines to the standards of Long Shadows’ demanding partners.READ MORE
February 2013Safety glove for pruning systemREAD MORE
November 2012Clemens debuts spray system, automatic steeringREAD MORE
November 2012Deep down inside, some winemakers are artists—the kinds of people who never met a grape they didn’t (at least briefly) fall in love with. Others are engineers who never met a tank they didn’t want to customize.READ MORE
October 2012The Santa Barbara wine country has a few certified faux-Chateaux, but most of it is a little more homey and folksy than the North Coast norm. A few miles west of the beaten track, so close to the sea that even cool-climate grapes don’t grow there, a cluster of spartan wineries and tasting rooms known as the Lompoc Wine Ghetto serve up the nectar of the gods with all the glamour of a self-storage facility. Meander a few more miles through the nondescript warehouse district and you’ll find the home of Ampelos Cellars and Dragonette Cellars, two highly regarded boutique producers of Pinot Noir and a whole lot more.READ MORE
October 2012Use your smart phone as a pH meterREAD MORE
September 2012New nitrogen doser system
Vacuum Barrier Corp. unveiled its G2 systems, a new line of Nitrodose liquid nitrogen-injection equipment. All G2 systems now come with electric dosing vales for speeds up to 2,000 containers per minute and can be equipped with “directional dose dispersion” blocks. Details: vacuumbarrier.com.READ MORE
August 2012Audio system repels deer with digital alarm recordingsREAD MORE
July 2012New wine-testing deviceREAD MORE
June 2012Small lot wine pouchesREAD MORE
June 2012Much of the history of Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, Calif., is well known. The winery was founded in 1989 by wine importer Robert Haas and one of his French clients, the Perrin family of Château de Beaucastel in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. They legally imported Rhône grape varieties from France, propagating them in a nursery at the winery after they were released from quarantine. The availability of this new vine material helped raise the quality of Rhône grapes in the U.S.: Wineries all over the country are growing the so-called Tablas Creek Vineyard Selections (now marketed by Novavine) in their vineyards.READ MORE
May 2012Jaz clamp validates life of UV quartz sleeveREAD MORE
April 2012The way that Luc and Jodie Morlet financed their new winery is nearly as interesting as its contents and the structure itself. The well-respected French-born winemaker and his wife used a combination of entrepreneurship, refinancing their home, great winemaking and sheer hard work to acquire the rare property and build a winery without partners or investors.CLICK PHOTO TO PLAY VIDEO: The LT sorting machine employs a slanted shaking table and gentle movement.READ MORE
March 2012Thermometer uses infrared technologyREAD MORE
March 2012Suppliers recently unveiled a host of new products that included ready-to-plant grapevines, chemical treatments, harvesting machines and data systems. The following is a sampling of what’s new for the vineyard in 2012.READ MORE
February 2012Sandblasting black mold off the walls, laying down new floors and essentially building a modern winery on the site of an old one—these were the easy jobs for Jeremy Baker as he worked to open Thomas George Estates winery.READ MORE
January 2012Moyno 1000 Close-Coupled pumps offer compact sizeREAD MORE
January 2012With several inches of rain predicted along California’s North Coast, Moises Frias raced to gather what was left of the 2011 harvest. From the air-conditioned cabin of an over-the-row tractor, he eased up on the throttle, nudged the steering wheel to the left, swung the mechanical harvester onto a tractor path and emptied three tons of Chardonnay into a gondola bound for Cuvaison Estate Wines in Napa, Calif.READ MORE
December 2011Mavrik debuts water-removal systemREAD MORE
November 2011Cryopak launches Tempak PlusREAD MORE
October 2011Broyhill introduces trailered sprayerREAD MORE
September 2011Dynamic Systems Inc. debuts CheckMateREAD MORE
August 2011ITT Analytics debuts new refractometerREAD MORE
August 2011Hall Wines’ St. Helena facility was California’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold-certified winery. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED provides guidance and certification for the design, construction and operation of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly buildings.CLICK PHOTO TO PLAY VIDEO: Hall Wines Technical ReviewREAD MORE
July 2011BSG increases orders for wine yeastsREAD MORE
July 2011With a seeming frenzy of providers and options for point-of-sale software systems (POS), it’s easy to get distracted and lose sight of your mission: to secure the most streamlined system that manages your business and falls within budget. As a busy winery manager, your objectives need to be outlined before you even begin the shopping process.READ MORE
July 2011David Gates, vice president of vineyard operations at Ridge Vineyards, has installed a sophisticated tool for tracking field conditions and measuring the transpiration rates of vines planted at the winery’s Monte Bello Vineyard in Cupertino, Calif. The vineyard team collaborated with technicians from Fruition Sciences to build a network of sensors that reduces water consumption and improves the quality of the grapes.CLICK PHOTO TO PLAY VIDEO: Sap Flow Monitoring in the VineyardREAD MORE
June 2011Amcor helps airline industry lighten upREAD MORE
May 2011WeldSeal seals porosityREAD MORE
The 6,000-gallon stainless steel tank doesn’t stand out much at the Monterey Wine Co., a custom crush facility in King City, Calif., that can process 9,000 tons per year. But the intermittent explosions—pop, pop, pop, every few seconds—get your attention.READ MORE
January 2011Grapes, stems and leaves are photographed as they enter the Delta Vistalys optical sorter.
After a week of unseasonably high temperatures, the sky darkened and cast a somber, uneven light across the crush pad at Clos Pegase winery in Napa Valley. Nearby, knots of field workers raced to pick clusters of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon as the Pacific jet stream poised to unleash a storm that would deliver a decisive conclusion to the 2010 harvest.READ MORE
Few tools in the winemaker’s bag of tricks spark more discussion, controversy and confusion than sulfites. Most enologists trust the embattled molecules to safeguard their carefully crafted wines from the ravages of oxidation, microbial contamination and premature aging. Many consumers, on the other hand, know little of sulfites’ benefits, assume they’re unsafe and prefer their wines to be sulfite-free–often based on little more than the stuff’s undeservedly bad reputation.
Peter Granoff, master sommelier and managing partner of the Wine Merchant and Wine Bar stores in San Francisco and Napa, marvels at some of the myths circulating among consumers. He finds one oft-repeated canard, informally known as the European travel problem, especially ridiculous. “I’ve heard stories where consumers come back from Western Europe and have either talked to someone at a winery or a restaurant and have been told that sulfites are not used in Europe, but are added specifically for the American market.” That, Granoff says, “is complete poppycock.”READ MORE
December 2010In 2008 Ridge Vineyards contracted Soil and Topography Information LLC to see what soil amendments were needed in a Sonoma County vineyard.
Success in real estate depends on location, and that’s as true for vineyard properties as for any other kind. But the variation possible within even any one viticultural area means location plays a far more complex role than many people imagine—and that’s setting aside any debate about the nature of terroir. A host of practical considerations will face the grower who aims to select the best possible site for a vineyard and reduce long-term management issues.
Rapid development, especially in new growing areas, means centuries of experience and hard-won wisdom aren’t available to guide new plantings. Many plantings are educated guesses—educated, all right, but guesses nonetheless.READ MORE
November 2010Bob Peak, prolific writer on fermentation science and partner at The Beverage People in Santa Rosa, Calif., runs a sample test through the shop's Reflectoquant.
Days are getting shorter. Birds dart and weave across harvested vineyards looking for stray berries to eat. Sore backs are beginning to hurt slightly less. Harvest cuts and calluses are starting to heal and slough off work-stained hands. The constant fatigue is beginning to lessen.READ MORE
The Adams-Harbertson phenolics assay allows a winemaker to reach a high-risk winemaking- decision quicker and with confidence. Not only does the assay give us confidence for present-day decisions, it also allows a historical look at vintage and vineyard performance to help make future winemaking decisions customized to each vineyard and upcoming vintage.READ MORE
July 2010Winemaker Amanda Cramer calls the laboratory at Niner Wine Estates "medium-tech," having opted to automate some of the analyses.Niner Wine Estates opened its new winery in Paso Robles, Calif., in time for the 2009 harvest. Much of the cutting-edge design and high-tech equipment was suggested by winemaker Amanda Cramer, who has been with Niner since 2004. She says she wanted to take the best of what she’s seen in wineries around the world, and owner Dick Niner concurred.READ MORE
On a mild January day in 2003, Dr. Carole Meredith celebrated her 55th birthday as only she could. It’s the rare scientist who walks away from a distinguished career at the top of her game, but the famed grape geneticist (Dr. DNA, as her fans call her) marked the day by giving herself an unusual gift. She quit the academic spotlight—and the grueling commute from her remote mountaintop winery home to her lab at the University of California, Davis—to concentrate on Lagier Meredith, the Napa winery she runs with her husband, winemaker Steve Lagier.READ MORE
Overt or covert? That is the question producers must ponder when considering their options for product authentication and brand protection in the globalized age of wine consumption. That is, if they perceive a threat.READ MORE
Rick Hamman, director of viticulture at Hogue Ranches in Prosser, Wash., can't forget the Tri-Cities area vineyard that highlighted the impact a bad leafroll infection can have on grapevines.READ MORE
September 2008Members of the Professional Soil Scientists Association of California survey soil pits at Carmody McKnight Estate Vineyards during a meeting in March.Is there really a concrete relationship between soil types and wine quality? This dirty debate will long rage in many hallowed halls and dank, subterranean caves, because there is nothing more fundamental than dirt. The "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" portion of the universal human epitaph makes it even more compelling because, after all, we are what we drink. Whether or not you have a vineyard, there is no dirt like your very own.READ MORE
September 2008Coglin Cellars uses the Kodak Traceless system to prevent counterfeiting of its wines (above). Kodak's nano-particles are invisible to the naked eye and can be applied to bottles in various ways.Eric Vogt distinctly recalls a conversation he had with Corinne Mentzelopoulos of Château Margaux in June 2006. He had asked her to name the greatest challenges confronting her business.READ MORE
September 2008The Supreme Court's 2005 Granholm v. Heald decision, ruling that states must have the same regulations for in-state and out-of-state direct shipping, promised to level the playing field for producers across the country. Instead, it has created a minefield.
Where once the answer to the question, "Can I ship there?" was a simple "No," now it's more likely "Yes, but…" Every state has its own set of regulations, its own schedule of permitting fees and its own reporting requirements. (OK, Utah is still easy: no way.) And once a winery penetrates a state, counties have their own sales tax rates and remittance schemes. Any and all of these statutory responsibilities can change in any given month. And if you mess it up, you can be fined, audited or ultimately put out of business.READ MORE
September 2007Forward-thinking winemakers and vineyard managers are now using a number of technological innovations--to save money and improve the quality of their products--that others in the wine industry have been slow to embrace. Many of these innovations are no longer just for pioneers and early adopters, however. To expose Wines & Vines readers to six tech tools that have proven their usefulness, we interviewed the people now using them.READ MORE
A glimpse of the future? Dave Linden and Jun Yu on the airstrip at San Bernabe vineyard in California for a NASA-sponsored flying computer demonstration.The scene on the private landing strip at Monterey County's San Bernabe Vineyard resembled a model airplane club's competition day. That is, if the club were sponsored by NASA and had the use of battlefield-style military radar and a FEMA mobile computer command center.READ MORE
Foss's WineScan Grape system has won favor with wineries for speeding up wine testing using near infrared spectroscopy combined with Fourier transfer analysis to measure ethanol, acids, pH and more.The boutique winery laboratory is no longer just the realm of pipettes and beakers. Compact and affordable instruments increasingly take over the jobs once performed with wet chemistry and requiring skill and experience. "Small, automated instruments minimize the labor required and increase efficiency," says Chris Hartless, who manages Diageo's lab at Beaulieu Vineyard in Rutherford, Calif.READ MORE
September 2007Click here to view Computer Software Suppliers & OfferingsREAD MORE