All posts filed under: Technology

The good, the bad and the ugly

Many who consider the sensory evaluation of wine to be a purely subjective exercise cite our differences in perception as the basis for that belief. While it’s true that our abilities to perceive aromas and tastes vary, using an olfactometer we’re able to accurately measure the thresholds at which different tasters perceive the volatile organic compounds found in wine. Research has also shown that a like group of tasters, those who are equal to the task, can consistently gauge the intensities of the aromas, tastes and structural aspects of wine. Compared to humans, who scientists believe can detect in excess of one trillion odors and identify a few thousand, the latest generation of olfactory and gustatory biosensors can detect up to 350 smells in about 15 seconds. Developed by a molecular biologist and nanobioscientist in Grenoble, France, the Aryballe Technologies NeOse Pro, a handheld e-nose that made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show this January, uses surface plasmon resonance imaging (SPRi) and biochemical sensors to analyze volatile organic compounds responsible for aroma and taste. …

Go with the flow

To filter or not to filter? You’ll find winemakers in both camps. But when filtration is called for, cross flow technology is proving to be the best case scenario for leaving wine sitting pretty. Although there are scenarios where older filtration technologies like hardwood cellulose pads or diatomaceous earth (DE) are better suited to the task, the minimal risks and considerable rewards of state-of-the-art cross flow filtration are readily apparent in the cellar and in the glass. “There’s a time and place for unfiltered wines,” says Gary Sitton, newly-appointed winemaker at Ravenswood Winery (Sonoma, Calif.), founded by winemaker Joel Peterson in 1976. “We view filtration as a tool that lets us guarantee the quality of our Vintners Blend and County Tier wines.” In an effort to work more sustainably in the cellar when filtration is necessary, winemakers like Sitton have found alternatives to crystalline silica-laden DE filtration, which requires workers to wear protective gear and to dispose of hazardous waste. “From a quality perspective, cross flow has let us move away from the use of pads …

Customizing for the curated economy

Just a few short years ago, integration was one of the biggest hurdles facing wineries of all sizes as they worked to combine mobile point-of-sale (POS) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems with a host of disparate back-end systems. The industry’s software as a service (SaaS) providers have responded by offering robust bundles of subscription services that address every aspect of winery management and sales cycles. While challenges still exist, particularly for capturing disparate social media channels and CRM, wineries of all sizes have effectively closed the gap on integration. Today, customization has emerged as the newest challenge confronting both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) wine sales. According to Dave Dobrow, vice president of business development and marketing for Copper Peak Logistics, who recently spoke on a panel addressing customization at the Ship Compliant 2016 conference, wineries are doing a good job embracing the curated economy. “The subscription food business has gone berserk and wineries are looking to copy that success offering wine club shipments that are specifically curated to add value and recreate the …

The Dawn of Agtech

Agricultural drones may be creating plenty of buzz, but their terrestrial cousins — the robots — are poised to make their commercial debut. Next year promises to be the year of the agricultural robot. With the altruistic vision of creating a sustainable society where future generations are free from worry about food security and safety, the world’s first robotic lettuce farm will go into production in 2017. Kyoto, Japan-based company, Spread, has retooled an indoor vertical lettuce plant where robots will plant, water, harvest and trim up to 30,000 heads of lettuce every day. The automated plant will reduce labor costs by 50%, cut energy use by 30% and recycle 98% of the water needed to grow the crops. The company has plans to build similar robot farms to grow staple crops and plant protein around the world. Growing lettuce in a greenhouse is a far cry from managing a vineyard, but from apple harvesting robots that can carry bins of fruit weighing half a ton, to grapevine pruning rovers that make surgical cuts, several …

UV Tank Sanitation a Viable Conservation Strategy

A new method for sanitizing stainless steel tanks and barrels using ultraviolet light is finding a receptive audience in California. The BlueMorph technology has been in development for four years and is coming to market at an opportune time. According to founding partner Alex Farren, a biochemist and toxicologist, the method known as Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) uses little or no water, no chemicals and only takes 30 seconds to install. Depending upon size, tanks can be sanitized in less than 30 minutes.

Will Magnetized Yeast Revolutionize Riddling?

New technique promises to speed sparkling wine production. There’s no mistaking a gyro­palette at work, its top-heavy robotic arm twirling a wire pal­ette of bottles like a baton. But you’ll need a scanning elec­tron microscope to see the iron nanoparticles that have the poten­tial to make it obsolete. The early adoption of the robotic gyropalette by Cava producer Cor­doniu in the mid-1970s was a mile­stone that altered the course of the modern sparkling wine indus­try. Mechanized riddling reduced the amount of time required to move spent yeasts cells into the neck of a bottle from two months to a matter of days, all without any adverse effects on the sensory qualities of the wine. The wholesale adoption of mechanization by traditional-meth­od sparkling wine producers and many Champenoise dramatically reduced the production costs and time to market imposed by the labor-intensive technique of hand-riddling bottles. As such, bottle-aged sparkling wine became a viable and affordable alternative to still wine. Almost despite technology, this time-honored method remains very close to its original form. Beyond the gyropalette and …