The global wine industry convened near Milan, Italy, in November for that country’s largest exposition of winemaking and viticulture equipment. SIMEI-Enovitis 2013, held Nov. 12-16, featured more than 600 exhibitors, including 140 visiting from other countries. Organizers estimated more than 50,000 people attended the five-day exhibition that also featured seminars about the global and European wine industries.
Fiera Milano in Rho, the site of SIMEI-Enovitis on the outskirts of Milan, is a sprawling metropolis in its own right. The center features 16 halls, each the size of the main floor of the Sacramento Convention Center (where the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium takes place), lined up in two parallel rows of eight stretching more than 3,000 feet. SIMEI occupied four expo halls.
Because of the spacious exposition floor, vendors set up complete bottling lines, displayed their largest tanks and a wide assortment of barrels, bottles and vineyard equipment. Nearly every booth was staffed with supplier representatives fluent in English.
Visit Milan during the SIMEI show
One reason more North American winemakers should attend the SIMEI-Enovitis show and conference is its proximity to Milan. Before or after walking the vast trade show and seeing winery technology innovations that haven’t yet arrived in the United States, visitors can easily tour Italy’s second-largest city, which is known for leadership in finance, fashion and design.
After arriving at the Malpensa (MXP) airport, a taxi to central Milan costs a flat fee of 90 euros, but trains to the central stations cost only about 10 euros one way. An airport shuttle bus also costs around 10 euros but can get stuck in freeway traffic headed downtown.
While lodging in Milan’s center, SIMEI attendees can hop on the city’s subway for a 2.55-euro ride to the exposition halls at Fiera Milano. The fair’s metro station, the last stop on the north branch of the red line, provides easy access to downtown Milan as well as most of the city’s main tourist sites. Ticket machines with English instructions and easy-to-understand signage make traveling on the metro a simple and efficient option.
Everyone could likely use a break after five days on the trade show floor. Among the best sites to visit is the Duomo, Milan’s main cathedral. Built between 1386 and 1813, it’s one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Be sure to take the elevator to the roof for an expansive view of central Milan.
Another must-see attraction is the Castello Sforzesco, which served as the residence of Milan’s rulers through the centuries as well as military bases for the city’s various foreign occupiers. During the 15th century, Leonardo de Vinci painted frescos in the castle.
Today the castle houses several art museums. The Basilica di Sant’Ambrogio is also well worth visiting. Construction of the basilica began in 1379, but the church’s history dates back even further: to the 1080s. It is one of Milan’s oldest and most favored places of worship.
For eating in Milan, a good rule of thumb is to check if a restaurant is open for dinner before 7 p.m. If it is, it’s probably not so good. Two strong recommendations: Mama Rosa (at Piazza Cincinnato 4 on Via San Gregorio) and Da Giacomo (at Via Sottocorno 6 Angolo via Benvenuto Cellini). Have your concierge make reservations a day or more in advance and, if suitably impressed, make another reservation for a second night before leaving the restaurant.
Both Florence and Venice are just a couple of hours by train from Milan. When in Venice, a side trip north about 45 minutes to Vittorio Veneto will get you into the heart of the Prosecco-producing wine country. A final tip: Don’t forget to check your passport’s expiration date prior to leaving the United States. A flood of refugees has prompted Italian authorities to strictly enforce the law that does not allow entry if your passport expires within 90 days of your arrival. SIMEI is expected to return to the Fiera Milano during the last week of November 2015.
—Dave Bayard, Wines & Vines international sales manager
In September, the Unione Italiana Vini, which organizes SIMEI, announced the 23 companies that had won awards in the show’s Innovation Challenge. A panel of winemaking experts reviewed new technology and equipment submitted by companies and then recognized suppliers that have invested in developing the most innovative products. The winners were honored during the official SIMEI opening ceremony Nov. 12 and singled out as some of the highlights at the trade show.
Italian cooper Garbellotto won a technological innovation award for its specificnear-infrared technology that measures with a non-destructive method the lactones, vanillin and polyphenol content of barrel stave wood. The process can also determine the aromatic profile of the wood. The composition of all three can vary widely, as will the effect of each on the final product.Garbellotto’s export manager, Antonio Carlucci, said by determining the relative concentrations of these wood components the company can find “the right wood and the right staves according to your expectation” for your wines. He said the company can now guarantee the aroma profile of a barrel.
Winemakers also will be able to order comparable barrels if they like the results from working with Garbellotto’s new scanned barrels. Carlucci said it puts more accurate “science into the selection of wood” and allows “greater consistency in your barrels.” Garbellotto barrels are distributed in the United States through The Vintner’s Vault, based in Paso Robles, Calif.
Mistral cooperage, which is a subsidiary of Tonelería Nacional in Chile, showed off the Labrador retrievers the company uses for quality control. Leif Kaiser, Tonelería Nacional’s commercial director, said the highly trained dogs can detect TCA levels below 0.3 nanograms per liter as well as TBA. If the wood is not right, it is immediately removed from the production chain.
The company, which has a U.S. office in Sonoma , Calif., will also bring the dogs to wineries to help detect contamination in storage areas, the bottling line or wherever TCA or TBA can cause problems. The dogs spend half their time at their cooperage in Chile and the rest at customer locations. The program is proving successful at the factory, and it’s popular with winemakers. Kaiser said the company plans to incorporate trained dogs at its locations in Europe, Australia and North America.
New sensor technology
Part of the AROL Group of companies, FT System was another winner for innovative technology. Massimo Fedel is the firm’s technical director and responsible for the development of the award-winning L.Sensor.O2. He said the device shoots a low-power, Class 1 laser through the headspace of the container to measure headspace and dissolved oxygen in a non-destructive and non-intrusive manner. The unit also detects total pressure in the container, partial CO2
pressure and dissolved CO2
The sensor helps winemakers “kick out bottles that are not sealed” correctly or don’t meet other measurable standards and can be incorporated into a bottling line. FT System is distributed in California through Enartis Vinquiry and directly through the company for the rest of North America.
Parsec, which is distributed in North America by American Tartaric Products, showcased a new piece of equipment that can determine oxygen levels in wine in two ways. The new unit includes a sensor that can detect oxygen levels through clear bottles and a stainless steel (food grade) probe that can be placed directly into a tank or barrel.
Italian winemaking equipment manufacturer Siprem International received an innovation award for its hybrid vacuum/pneumatic presses. Siprem’s commercial director, Roberto Berto, explained the new presses are “able to extract more juice than a pneumatic press using a softer, lower pressure” during the first stage of a press cycle. The second stage employs a pneumatic press. The total cycle time is reduced by average 30% because of the hybrid press function. American Tartaric Products represents Siprem in the United States.
Bucher Vaslin earned an award for its new Delta Rflow sorting table. The machine employs a high-powered air jet to sort grapes and remove MOG at high speed. Italian firm Gruppo Bertolaso received an innovation award for its system of “simplified bottle handling parts within packaging machines.”
Closure award winners
A trio of closure suppliers earned new technology awards. Nomacorc was honored for its Select Bio Series, which it claims offers wineries a zero carbon footprint closure for their wines. The Select Bio is 100% recyclable and made with polymers derived from sugar cane.
Amcor Flexibles earned an award for its Stelvin Inside range of screwtop liners with varying oxygen transfer rates. Amorim Cork also took a new technology award for its Helix cork, which is a reusable cork with threading similar to a screwtop closure.
LaCruz Solutions made a basic design change to the harvesting system its machines use to remove grape clusters from the vine. The firm’s representative Valentino Cirivello said the new system can provide a 30% improvement in both yield and time savings. Cirivello said the beaters feature a longer surface that requires fewer beats per second, resulting in “less stress for the grape and the stock.”
Martignani won an innovation award for electrostatic sprayer technology that “keeps the drift down by blowing it back into the canopy in combination with the electrostatic droplets charge,” said Stefano Martignani, the company’s director and general manager. Solex Corp. of Dixon, Calif., handles the company’s sales in the United States.