Putting wine on ice – gas’s role in winemaking

The main hero and villain in the wine-making process is oxygen. Generally, the use of various gases in wine production is necessary to negate the destructive nature of oxygen. Gavin Hall, Air Liquide’s sales representative for food and wine in South Australia, said this is where his company’s expertise comes to the fore.

“The management of oxygen in all the wine making processes is paramount to the industry,” he said. “This is because oxygen is what defines the quality of the wine and its organoleptic properties.”

Throughout the production process, the wine itself is subject to various oxidation processes. A certain degree of oxidation is necessary, but direct contact with oxygen has a detrimental effect on the quality of the final product. It is possible to control how oxygen interacts with the wine by using a variety of different gases. All wineries have to use gases to control the intake of oxygen. These gases include nitrogen, carbon dioxide (CO2) argon and sulphur dioxide.

Hall said there are eight stages in which gases are involved in the processing of wine.

Stage 1
The first stage is during the harvesting and transport of grapes from the field to vineyard/winery. In this stage, the crushed grapes start getting in contact with oxygen in the air. It is important to negate that contact but it is difficult to achieve, which is why there is a need to lower the temperature in order to slow down the oxidation process, said Hall.
“As soon as the grape juice comes in contact with oxygen, the fermentation starts, as does the oxidation process. What you want to do is lower the temperature of the grapes,” said Hall. “Because the lower the temperature the slower the oxidation process.”

In this stage CO2 is mainly used in the form of dry ice. “In Australia, compared to Europe, most wineries don’t use this cooling process due to the initial phase, they usually try to process the grapes as soon as possible,” said Hall.

Stage 2
Once the grapes are crushed, the pressing process allows for the production of clarified juice, which is transferred to different tanks to ferment. Winemakers need to displace the air from empty vessels into empty pipes before transferring the wine to ensure there is no residual oxygen. This is called purging.

“When you need to purge the tank,” said Hall, “you utilise an inert gas to flush out the remaining liquid or air under a certain pressure.”

Nitrogen is mainly used in this stage. The process of purging is done by building slight overpressure with nitrogen in the tank, or in the pipeline. The wine maker is stopping the oxygen from coming in contact with the grape juice that has just been crushed out of the grapes.

“You are basically displacing the oxygen from the air that has already come in contact with the juice,” said Hall. “You’re using nitrogen under pressure to purge and transfer juice within the tanks.”

Stage 3
Then comes what is called tank inerting. This encompasses blanketing the surface of the wine tank after the juice has been collected.

“You are blanketing the surface with a protective layer of gas during the storage, or when you are emptying the tank,” said Hall. “By doing this to the tank, you prevent oxidation.”
The gas used can be nitrogen, CO2, or a mixture of the two. Vintners can also use argon, but that can be a little more expensive. In Australia, tank inerting is very important, and it is common to do it with dry ice.

“Using dry ice is preferred by winemakers because it’s practical, and they can actually see it and it’s a bit cheaper,” said Hall.

“You scoop it into the wine tank. Because CO2 is heavier than air, it creates a layer at the bottom of the tank blanketing the wine, thus preventing oxygen contact.”

Stage 4
Winemakers are constantly measuring the dissolved oxygen in the wine. Depending on the wine being made, some vintners do what is called deoxygenation which consists of stripping out the excess oxygen that is dissolved in the wine.
“For this process you would use nitrogen,” said Hall. “By injecting nitrogen in the form of tiny bubbles into the wine, you are forcing the dissolved oxygen into the gas phase, and then the gas is vented out of the tank.”

Depending on the type of wine that is made, vintners need a certain amount of dissolved oxygen. It is one of the key criteria to produce quality wine.

Step 5
The next step, also using nitrogen, consists of mixing or homogenising. Nitrogen is bubbled at the bottom of the tank. When the bubbles raise to the surface, they are mixing the various products together.

“That is why it is called mixing,” said Hall. “This comes into effect when wine makers need to homogenise the wine they are making. It avoids oxygen pick up.”

Bubbling nitrogen is also used during must lifting process but this time during the fermentation. This process brings up all the dense solids that have accumulated at the bottom of the tank.

The benefit of must lifting using gas is that it saves times.

Step 6
Bottle inerting is the next step. This means that when the wine is being bottled, gas is already being used. Like most of the other steps, it is all about minimising the amount of oxygen in the wine.

For this step, it is possible to use CO2 or nitrogen, or a mixture of both. Every bottling line in a winery has filling machines equipped with gas injection. The decision on what type of gas is to be used depends on the type of wine that is being made.

“Most winemakers use nitrogen to apply counter pressure in the bottles to purge the oxygen before filling them with wine,” said Hall. “The oxygen is eliminated inside the bottle, then you fill them with wine.”

The second step in the bottling line is the headspace of the bottle. After the bottle has been filled, there is a gas injection point, which is filling up the headspace of the bottle after the wine has been put into the bottle.

Step 7
Depending on the wine and oxygen level of the tank, some winemakers might use oxygen in the different steps of the winemaking process. This is called oxygen enrichment.
“The winemaker reintroduces oxygen to help maintain the yeast activity in the wine to minimise the risk of stuck fermentation and the production of undesirable sulphides,” said Hall. “Oxygen is not always bad in the winemaking process. This is a controlled situation. You’re not putting wine in contact with air, you’re injecting oxygen in micro doses. The yeast works on oxygen. The simple process of wine making is that you have the sugars in the grapes and then the sugars become alcohol, or ethanol in this case. This process is using oxygen to transform the sugars into ethanol. What you don’t want to do, is put in too much oxygen. Then the alcohol becomes oxidised. You need to control the amount of oxygen you put in the wine.”

Step 8
In the case of still wines, the CO2 level is usually adjusted before bottling, according to Hall. Winemakers can measure the level of CO2 that is dissolved in the wine and bubble nitrogen if it is too high or dissolve CO2 if it is too low. In the case of sparkling, this adjustment is brought about to carbonisation of the wine.

“Now you have the wine that is ready,” said Hall. “Oxygen is the one that creates the magic. It is the management of oxygen that is important and you need it to be controlled at all steps of the process. It is a critical thing for winemakers. An excess of oxygen is bad. You want to avoid direct contact with air.”

If winemakers are thinking of using the gas suite offered by Air Liquide, they come in three different modalities.

For small wineries they come in gas cylinders. For medium- to large-sized installations, the gases are supplied in bulk via big tanks. For big wineries, Air Liquide can install and operate a nitrogen generator onsite.

Wine industry sees upward trend in crush and prices

The Australian wine sector recorded its third consecutive increase in crush and the average purchase price of wine grapes this year, according to the National Vintage Report 2017 released today by Australian Vignerons, Wine Australia and the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia.

In a continuing trend of positive increases for the Australian grape and wine sector, the national crush is estimated to be 1.93 million tonnes – an increase of 5 per cent from the 2016 vintage – and the national average purchase price increased by 7 per cent $565 per tonne – the highest since 2008.

“The increases reflect excellent seasonal conditions in many regions as well as the growing demand for Australian wine, both in export and domestic markets,” said Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark.

“Pleasingly, the figures from the National Vintage Report indicate that the supply and demand for Australian wine is in balance. An additional 93,000 tonnes were crushed this year, which produces approximately an additional 65 million litres of wine. This is in line with increased demand for Australian wine: in 2016–17, exports increased by 50 million litres, and domestic sales increased by 12 million litres in 2015–16, a total of 62 million litres.”

In the 2017 vintage, most regions recorded an increase in tonnes crushed, with the growth in the national crush coming relatively equally from the cool/temperate and warmer inland wine regions of Australia.

The crush from cool/temperate regions increased by 9 per cent to 0.61 million tonnes and accounted for 31 per cent of the national tonnes. In warmer inland regions (Riverina, Murray Darling–Swan Hill and Riverland) the crush increased by 3 per cent to 1.32 million tonnes, making up 69 per cent share of the national crush.

Red winegrape varieties increased their share of the crush to 55 per cent, compared with 52 per cent in 2016. Overall, red winegrape varieties increased by 12 per cent and offset a slight decline of 2 per cent in the white variety crush.

More than 35,000 transactions were collected for vintage analysis. They revealed that the average purchase price increased 7 per cent from last year’s vintage to $565 per tonne – above the average price across the previous five years of $477 per tonne.

The average purchase price of red winegrapes increased by 6 per cent from $651 per tonne to $691 per tonne, and the average price of white winegrapes also increased by 6 per cent from $398 to $420 per tonne.

The total estimated value of the Australian winegrape crush from the 2017 vintage is $1.22 billion, an incease of 13 per cent from $1.08 billion in 2016.

 

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New app to measure water stress of grapevines

A new smartphone app that helps grape growers measure the water status of their vines is being trialed across Australia.

The portable viticultural tool has the potential to help grape growers make improved water management decisions for their vineyards.

Grape growers use a thermal camera attached to their smartphone to take images of the canopy of the grapevine. The image is analysed by the app, which calculates the vine water status.

The technology is being tested by 15 vineyards in South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania for the rest of the growing season.

The Wine Australia-funded project is being led by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), a division of Primary Industries and Regions SA, in close collaboration with The University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Dr Kathy Ophel-Keller, Acting Executive Director of SARDI said, “Water and associated pumping costs can be a significant component of the production costs for grape growers.

“Uncontrolled water stress has the potential to reduce the yield and quality of grapes and the resulting wine, which in turn reduces the return to growers.

“The management of vine water status is a key tool for grape growers to regulate yield and optimise fruit quality and style.

“This new app offers grape growers instant feedback on the water status of their vines, and provides them with the flexibility to assess multiple blocks or sections of blocks, and to make irrigation decisions in real time.”

Dr Liz Waters, General Manager of Research, Development and Extension at Wine Australia said, “Irrigating effectively and efficiently helps to optimise vineyard production to produce high-quality wine grapes for fine Australian wines.

“Through many years of extensive research, methods have been developed to assess grapevine water status. This new app provides a portable solution to measure water status quickly and easily in the vineyard.

“‘The app allows growers to make informed irrigation decisions that support the production of high-quality fruit grown to specification.”

Sensor system uses internet to maximise vineyard irrigation efficiency

A wireless sensor system to maximise vineyard irrigation efficiency will begin field trials in January.

SmartVine, developed in South Australia by TK SmartTech, will utilise a network of sensors to collect data on soil, crop health and moisture from across a vineyard.

Using SmartVine’s software, vignerons can then assess and manage their irrigation zones using a central system on their laptop, smartphone or tablet.

TK SmartTech Co-director Tenzin Crouch said the package would allow growers to optimise watering solutions based using a series of algorithms.

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“You basically end up with a map of the vineyard which shows the areas that are most productive,” he said.

“That way we can easily map the optimum watering to the right type of soil, and work out where your inputs need to go.

“We’ll be running some algorithms for the farmers, based around what agronomists suggest, and that that will eliminate the farmer’s need to interpret all this complicated data – they’ll just get some really simple outputs.”

The data from SmartVine will allow growers to more effectively determine optimum watering patterns, reducing waste in the vineyard.

“Of course water is one of the biggest costs for any grower, and it’s a really critical part of the growing process as well,” Crouch said.

“It’s really important to make sure you get the right amount of stress to get the optimum grape, which comes back to how you’re watering.”

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While SmartVine can automate the irrigation process based off its algorithms, data gathered using the software can also be sent to other experts for analysis.

Vignerons can then set up watering schedules using the program, based on the individual needs of their crop.

“We’re basically trying to give the grower the tool to make that decision themselves,” Crouch said.

“Our algorithms will be useful to get a good baseline, but sometimes your farmer might want a specific profile, or something based off what their winemaker has said.

In its current form, the sensors will connect to a private system, but as Internet of Things technology grows, SmartVine will take advantage of the rapidly expanding network.

One McLaren Vale vineyard is already locked for the January trial but TK SmartTech is still looking to recruit growers in the Barossa Valley and Riverland regions.

Trials will continue until after harvest with SmartVine with expected to be commercially available by June 2017.

Crouch and fellow TK SmartTech director Kai Harrison recently completed an entrepreneurial course through Flinders University’s New Venture Institute where they were also finalists in a pitch competition with their SmartVine system.

IoT developer Thinxtra announced this month it would partner with the South Australian Government to roll out a statewide network by mid-2017.

This story first appeared on The Lead.

Powdery mildew app helps vignerons manage grape expectations

A free mobile app to help vignerons and winemakers quickly assess grapes for powdery mildew in the field is being made available to growers globally.

Developed in South Australia by the University of Adelaide in collaboration with industry and Wine Australia, the app was initially launched for use exclusively in Australia ahead of the 2016 vintage.

PMapp has been downloaded more than 1000 times and been well received by the Australian industry, prompting the construction of a training website to support the app and its international release this month.

Powdery mildew is a serious disease that affects grapevines worldwide and can cause off flavours and aromas in wine if not controlled.

University of Adelaide Professor of Plant Pathology and project leader Eileen Scott said she had already responded to inquiries about the app from North America, Chile, Europe and New Zealand.

“Powdery mildew is probably the most ubiquitous disease of grapevines – it occurs everywhere because it’s much less sensitive to weather conditions than other diseases like downy mildew or botrytis,” she said.

The disease is assessed in the vineyard as the percentage surface area of grape bunches affected, which gives a measure of disease severity.

PMapp allows the user to visually assess the severity by matching it with computer-generated images.

The app allows disease data to be entered quickly in the vineyard. Assessors then email the results and analyse the resulting spreadsheet, which records GPS co-ordinates and other assessment details.

Prof Scott said having Australian growers use the app for a year before the rest of the world allowed the system to be trialled thoroughly so any glitches could be fine-tuned.

“What we’ve built on to the app since we did the Australian release was a website designed to support diagnosis and recognition of powdery mildew as well as more training in early assessment than we could build into the app,” she said.

“The app allows people to enter their assessment quickly and efficiently to get an on the run average severity and average incidence across the block they are assessing.

“The website is designed for pre-vintage training of new staff and up-skilling or refreshing of existing and experienced staff so when they go out into the field they feel better prepared for the assessments.”

Australian users of the app in the 2016 vintage said it would become a valuable industry tool with some even using it to also assess grapes for bunch rot.

Australian Vignerons CEO Andrew Weeks said PMapp offered the potential for a uniform and reliable assessment procedure for powdery mildew, which in turn provided a consistent market signal for winegrowers.

“PMapp was a great tool in making decisions acceptable to both grower and winery,” he said.

Accolade Wines Chief Viticulturalist Alex Sas also supported the app.

“PMapp will quickly become part of the standard operating procedures of large wine companies in Australia and worldwide,” he said.

South Australia is consistently responsible for almost 50 per cent of Australia’s annual production.

There are 18 wine regions in South Australia, including the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Adelaide Hills, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Limestone Coast and Riverland.

This story first appeared in The Lead.

Planning tool targeting profitable margins for Australian wine

The Gross Margin Ready Reckoner is a free and confidential business planning tool that allows wineries to run different production and market scenario simulations to determine the most relevant price point for their wine in a specific export market.

Wineries can model the impact of changes in product mix, pricing, markets and distribution strategies on their profit margins.

Wine Australia Chief Executive Officer Andreas Clark said the Gross Margin Ready Reckoner will help to improve the competitiveness of Australian wine internationally and support the success of Australian wine businesses.

“Exports have always been critical to the success of the Australian wine sector. Currently, 60 per cent of wine produced in Australia is destined for export and in the last financial year, the value of our exports reached $2.11 billion,” he said.

‘The Gross Margin Ready Reckoner will help our sector to get the most from export opportunities as it provides a benchmark with the most suitable price point in a specific market, based on the individual business needs of a winery.

“The tool calculates profitability under different business scenarios across production and the supply chain, using information from the individual winery, as well as benchmark and tax data generated from a number of sources.”

The Gross Margin Ready Reckoner was first developed in 2007 by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and Wine Australia.

Working with Deloitte, Wine Australia has completely updated the Gross Margin Ready Reckoner to include the latest grape pricing, tax regimes, general cost updates and changes to tariff rates arising from Australia’s free trade agreements.

The tool bases its calculations on pre-populated averages and estimates across the supply chain in order to create a basic benchmark.

To create an individual benchmark report, the Gross Margin Ready Reckoner poses specific questions over three steps:

  • winegrape origin and variety
  • destination market, and
  • wine production and storage costs.

Wineries can adjust the inputs on the comparison screens to examine the impacts of changes to input costs such as exchange rates, shipping and route to market.

 

Yalumba chooses the latest winemaking technology

Meeting consumer demands throughout seasonal variability with an advanced automation and process control solution from Rockwell Automation.

The Oxford Landing Estate Vineyard and Winery is named after a site where drovers once grazed and watered sheep. Today it’s home to a loyal flock of down-to-earth folk who take great pride in making quality wines, enjoyed the world over.

With 650 acres under vine, Oxford Landing Estate is not small but by micro-managing 130 five-acre blocks as separate ecosystems, the grapes are given exactly what they need to achieve optimum flavour.

Techniques such as detailed pruning, canopy management and crop thinning provide the winery with ultimate control in expressing the individuality of each block.  Oxford Landing prides itself on being nimble enough to harvest small batches of the fruit as soon as it ripens, so not an ounce of freshness is lost.

Set on the northern edge of the Barossa Valley the key to the success of the Oxford Landing Estate Winery is their ability to achieve a continuous production flow via a sophisticated automation and control system. In winemaking, this timing is particularly crucial since the grapes need to be processed within a critical window of time where the acid and sugar content are at a premium.

To achieve this, together with keeping up with increasing consumer demands, winemakers are turning to technology to streamline the process.

Over a decade of service and support

Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, and one of the country’s largest wine exporters. Its Angaston winery was founded in 1849 in South Australia’s famous Barossa Valley. Over time however, the demand for Yalumba wines has grown to exceed the processing capacity of the heritage-listed Angaston facility. This led to the establishment of the Oxford Landing Estate Winery, which is now the primary producer of Oxford Landing Estate wines and Yalumba’s popular two litre cask wine varieties.

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One of the main challenges with winemaking is that customers expect consistency, they get used to a particular label and expect it to taste the same, but every year the acid level is different, the sugar content is different as are the aromas and colour of the berries.

According to John Ide, winery operations manager, at Yalumba, “The aim for the Oxford Landing winery was an environmentally friendly plant incorporating the latest in winemaking technology, plus a new and unique process stream methodology. The objective was to achieve greater management of the process and the product.”

The agility needed to meet the demands of frequently changing production demands was uniquely met by the process automation solutions from Rockwell Automation. This on top of the end to end efficiencies of the plant wide control inherent in Integrated Architecture truly made this a solution real win for Yalumba.

The Oxford Landing Estate Winery was commissioned in 2005 and has been able to meet market requirements and improve product quality for more than a decade now. The secret, says Ide, is the automated process streams that ensure the grapes are fermented under optimum conditions, given the high volume throughput. It is particularly critical at all times to control fermentation rate and minimise oxidation, both of which are highly dependent on temperature.

From the moment the skin is broken during harvesting, it’s important to move the product quickly through the crushing stage, chilled and into the controlled environments of the fermentation tanks.

Each process stream begins at one of three receive hopper/crusher bays, where loads of grapes are converted into ‘must’, a mix of juice, skin and seeds. The must is then pumped through one of three ‘must chillers’ to reduce the temperature to around 12 degrees Celsius for white and heat or cool to 25 degrees for red. To produce white wine, the juice is extracted from the skin and seeds and clarified prior to fermentation; conversely, red wine is fermented with the skins included in the fermentation vessel. For both styles of wine, the premium juice/wine or ‘free run’ is drained and kept separate from the second stream or ‘pressings’ of extracted product through subsequent processing and storage. After wines are fermented they are clarified and blended into the final product before filtration and bottling.

Virtualisation and visibility

 The control and automation system plays an important role at Oxford Landing, the system performs sophisticated control of the numerous process streams, while at the same allowing the winemakers to exert their influence and apply their experience to achieve the desired result.

The primary user interface for the system is a virtualised server supported by two virtualised clients and six onsite clients, each running FactoryTalk View SE. Winemakers and operators use this supervisory-level HMI to specify process streams, crushing speeds and fermentation schedules; plus monitor the operational status of the entire plant.

The Angaston site allows maintenance operators to keep a close watch on trends using remote access via FactoryTalk ViewPoint or the virtual clients without having to come to site. This system is integrated with Yalumba’s proprietary ‘wine management system’ which is a non-commercial database of all vintages for the purpose batch tracking for label integrity.

FactoryTalk View SE is a key component of Oxford Landing’s automation system, providing a clear view across entire lines and production processes. This unified site-wide monitoring and control via the terminals and numerous plant-floor PanelView Plus human-machine interfaces (HMI). “Having everything on a common visualization platform was an attractive part of the package,” said Ide.

From a programming point of view, Integrated Architecture provides a common development environment for all applications utilising the mobility and virtualisation of the FactoryTalk system. FactoryTalk allows data tags created in one application to be immediately available to all applications across the integrated architecture system.

The ability to share data tags considerably reduces the software development time. The whole network was connected in the workshop and programmed at the same time. There was one tag database available to both the SCADA and the PLC programmers. Any tag created was immediately available to everybody so there was no importing, exporting, connecting or waiting. From the onset, the system could be programmed concurrently so there was no time delay.

Flexing muscle

At the heart of the system, more than 10 Allen-Bradley ControlLogix programmable automation controllers (PAC) perform the hybrid functionality required of sequential, process and drives control. This includes overseeing a myriad of Allen-Bradley PowerFlex drives that control screw feeders, crushers, pumps, presses, agitators, and so on; and also encompass enhanced PID control of temperature. “We have introduced a system for automatic dosing of yeasts for ferments which is also controlled by this system,” said Ide.

ControlLogix also controls the advanced refrigeration plant – perhaps the most critical function of all. “The refrigeration plant is our main tool for controlling temperature at all stages of the process,” said Ide, explaining that three ammonia compressors and a pumping system circulate liquid ammonia through the must chillers, ‘rack and return tanks’, and fermentation vessels as required.

The control system works out the required load and directs which should be the lead compressor and what the optimum settings are, based on how much cooling is needed for the required fermentation rates. “We have also just installed a PowerFlex 755 variable speed drive on the 450kW motor of our lead compressor increasing efficiency, flexibility and saving energy over the vintage period,” added Ide.

To link the automation system all together, the Oxford Landing plant utilises a site-wide Ethernet/IP network that connects the SCADA server and clients with each other and the ControlLogix PACs for a seamless flow of information through the plant. A ControlNet communications network provides high speed peer-to-peer communications, while device-level communications are provided by DeviceNet.

In addition, CompactLogix is used as the control system for equipment such as press and cross flow filters, which are networked back to the ControlLogix via Ethernet. FactoryTalk ViewPoint provides visibility remotely via a tablet, which delivers real time and historical trending. “As a result of the success of we’ve had with FactoryTalk View SE integrating all areas of our plant in one platform, we’ve now rolled it out at our  Yalumba site in Angaston,” said Ide.

Two shades of green

The Oxford Landing site is ‘green’ in more than one sense, with a number of strategies in place to ensure environmentally friendly practices. The refrigeration system is highly efficient, with the option of off-peak loading to reduce both electricity costs and power consumption through maximised compressor efficiency. In addition, the hot return ammonia gas heats the water used for washing tanks throughout the plant, plus Oxford Landing has its own complete wastewater recycling plant which is also interfaced with the FactoryTalk View SE system for visualisation and control.

Food_June_rockwell1The plant and wastewater facility is running at best practice and recently won an Environmental award from the South Australian Wine Industry Association for implementing an innovative cross flow filtration system that minimises waste going to the plant while increasing yield.

At Oxford Landing, the ultimate goal has always been to achieve a continuous production flow through the plant. Ide believes that the Integrated Architecture from Rockwell Automation is key to ensuring that this objective is met and maintained. “FactoryTalk View allows us to see trends in real time, and we can backtrack to specific batches as required,” he says. “Troubleshooting is also easy. For example, we can delve right down into the drives remotely, changing programming and configuration and perform pretty much anything. That’s the advantage of a fully integrated system which has a consistent look and feel across the board.”

“In addition, we are currently utilising our newly installed FactoryTalk EnergyMetrix system to control the maximum kVA demand and email alarms when we are nearing the limit.  We are in the stages of using the integrated system to automatically shut down other non critical motors to reduce demand when we are approaching the limit,” explained Ide.

Yalumba has shown that efficiency leads to quality and by using automation, efficiency can be increased and quality improved. It is the juxtaposition of high-volume processing technology and winemaking art that is making Yalumba successful, granting it the ability to deliver bottles of red and white that are finding favour, and flavour, the world over.

 

Treasury Wine Estates divests 12 US wine brands

Treasury Wine Estates has sold 12 non-core commercial US brands which account for one million cases of wine.

The company said in a statement that the move fits with its strategy of the past two years and that the divestments were made at approximately book value.

“The divestment will have nil impact on TWE’s earnings in F16 and beyond as the contribution from the divested brands is covered by Cost of Goods Sold savings from the Company’s Supply Chain Optimisation initiative and continued strong earnings growth from TWE’s Luxury and Masstige portfolios, globally,” the statement said.

In addition, Treasury reiterated its 2015/16 earnings guidance to be between $330 million and $340 million, a figure which the company says reflects improved performance across all regions.

Two SA wineries named in world top 5

Two South Australian wineries, Taylors Wines and Wolf Blass Wines, have been recognised as among the most awarded in the world by World Association of Wine Writers and Journalists (WAWWJ).

Receiving a combined total of 228 awards from a selection of key international wine shows and competitions, the wineries represented Australia in the Top 5 of the Top 100 Wineries in the World for 2015.

The result meant that Australia filled more positions in the top five than any other winemaking nation.

In the wider Top 10, another two Australian wineries joined the ranks, rounding the tally to 470 combined medals for Australia’s top performing producers.

The WRW is commissioned and evaluated by the WAWWJ every year with the purpose to develop an internationally recognised ranking system for the numerous wine shows and competitions held around the world. First founded in 1996, today the WAWWJ consists of 12,700 wine journalists, bloggers and judges representing 80 different countries.

This is the third consecutive year that family-owned winery Taylors has ranked amongst the top five best performing wineries in the world, a title Mitchell Taylor, third-generation Taylor family member and Managing Director of Taylors Wines, is honoured to receive.

“Since my father and grandfather founded the winery in 1969, our mission has been to create outstanding wines that could compete on the world stage. To be recognised year after year for our continued success abroad is a massive achievement and the wines we continue to produce just get better and better,” Mitchell (pictured) said.

“We must be doing something right down in the Clare, and we’re very proud to be Australia’s top performing family winery yet again.”

While the 2016 results have yet to be finalised, Taylors currently maintains its position as one of the Top 5 producers in the world, leading the pack with the most awarded wine in the world with the 2012 St Andrews Shiraz.

Sogrape Vinhos De Portugal SA was named top winery, while  Champagne Chales Heidsieck Blanc Des Millenaires Millesime 1995 won the prize for Top Wine in the World for 2015.

Greek winemakers to visit Australian shores

Following the success of their 2015 visit to Australia, a contingent of winemakers and educators from the world’s oldest growing region are making their second pilgrimage to our shores.

Showcasing innovative styles and native varietals, 23 wineries will visit Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide from 19-25 June to host a range of sessions including trade tastings, highly educational master classes, and intimate dinners and lunches.

Well known as some of the most passionate characters in the European industry, the wines they bring will be as robust and diverse as the personalities. A number of familiar faces from 2015’s events will be joined by some first-time visitors to the country, all highlighting exciting varietals in that Greek signature eternally modern style.

From the Peloponnese region to Santorini and the islands, winemakers, educators and grape-growers from all over the country look forward to sharing more than 70 wines, ranging from zesty assyrtikos to vibrant xinomavros with Australian trade and media.

New Wines of Greece President, Yannis Voyatzis said he was looking forward to returning to Australia with the group of producers.

“We are so excited to return to Australia and reconnect with the great friends and colleagues we met on our last trip,” Voyatzis said.

“We know there is growing intrigue around our famous wines in Australia and we have plenty of new information about varieties, techniques and exciting developing regions to share with Australia’s industry representatives.

“Australians love food, just like the Greeks, and this is the perfect opportunity for us to highlight the perfect pairing wines for rich flavours and textures that we share an appetite for.”

The travelling contingency is also running private master classes for retail, hotel and restaurant groups throughout their time in the country.

Babich wines celebrate 100 years of winemaking

This month, Babich Wines, one of the pioneers of New Zealand winemaking, will be dusting off the archives and sharing its family stories to celebrate the company’s centenary in 2016.

Babich will be posting 100 stories on babichwines.co.nz, meaning anyone with an internet connection will be able to learn about the family’s trials and tribulations. They will also be sharing rare images, including shots of the original vineyards and the tools they used.

“We wanted to throw the doors open and share the most intimate and interesting parts of our history,” explains Joe Babich, Managing Director and second-generation winemaker. 

“Our family’s story is one of passion, grit and hard work; caring for the earth and the vines; and at the end of the day, creating wines that represent excellence through experience. We’re excited to celebrate that and to share our success with wine lovers both here in New Zealand and around the world.”

New stories will be added to the website each month, kicking off with 26 in September. They touch on a range of emotions. Some reflect the struggles endured by the founder, Josip Babich, in the 1900s, while others show how pure hard work and innovation has ensured its century long success. Scattered among the stories are tales that will have readers laughing out loud.

Founder, Josip Babich, produced and bottled his first wine in 1916 at just 20 years old. According to Joe, he was an honest businessman, whose approach to winemaking was built on integrity, hard work and delivering quality and value to the customer.

“Can you imagine today, what it would mean for a 14-year-old boy to leave his parents and join his brothers to earn a living on the other side of the world? This journey was the humble beginnings for Josip, whose honest hard work and determination set the way for generations to come,” says Joe. 

“His traditional values still guide the business today, nearly 100 years on – and of that, we are immensely proud.”