A Computerized Winery Is Worth the Expense
We have made some big changes in the last two years at Les Bourgeois Vineyards; a new facility, crush equipment, and a new warehouse. All things that have been a long time coming and have greatly increased our efficiencies. Along with all these changes we have also adopted some new technologies to aid in cellar management. They include tank control software and records management software and I’ll share my experience with both.
First tank controls. Since I started in the wine world 14 years ago I have seen many methods for controlling the temperature of juice and wine. They range from our new state of the art controls to putting the wine outside in the winter to achieve cold stability.
We installed our latest tank control software in 2011, making it our third generation cooling system at this winery. Previously we used analog thermostats on each tank and then upgraded to digital centralized thermostats.
Having good temperature control in your winery is one of, if not the most important, aspect of wine production. So far, I have been tremendously impressed and sometimes a little confused by this newest piece of technology. Control systems will do so much and yet most of the options I have yet to explore.
The software’s primary use, controlling temperatures, has worked flawlessly so far. It can be integrated into all aspects of winemaking not just tank controls. The system can also monitor hot water needs, control the chiller itself and it can turn your lights on and off. And yes, there is even an App for it! Now I can check in on fermentation temps, receive alarms, and even adjust tank temps on the fly all from my anywhere in the world.
The second bit of new technology we purchased is a web based record management software. As we installed it early this year I don’t expect to use it to its full potential until 2013 harvest.
Up until we bought this software I was you using a series of binders, notebooks, and clip boards. There was so much paper floating around and so much of it getting wet or lost that it was amazing we had any records at all. The old system left a lot of room for error. Each morning I would write out the tasks that needed to be completed for the day, photocopy it, and disseminate to the winemaking staff.
We would then do the work based on my chicken scratch hand writing and make notes through the day. This cumbersome process would be separate for any lab analysis and separate again for any bottling logs.
Once the work was done the photocopy would be returned in some terrible state and I would record the operations on yet another piece of paper and keep it in a binder. Now, with the new web based software, I can create work orders from anywhere. The winemaking staff now has the ability to check the work orders from tables and to see what needs to be done and then complete the operation on the tablet so that actions can be recorded as they are finished. No more paper! Every action is now recorded and a costs can be assigned for each part of the process so that the cost of a gallon of wine can also be more accurately calculated.
Before you book your vacation you should know that with all this technology it has actually been more work not less. As with any industry the more information received and recorded the more work it is to manage the data and what you do with the results. It has and I believe will continue to change the way we work allowing more time to focus on some of the other aspects of winemaking.
If there is anybody out there that would like to discuss further these advancements or anything else please feel free to email me at email@example.com.