The Essence of Good Winemaking

By: Dr Richard Smart, Dr Misha Kwasniewski, Alex Fredrickson and Dr Angela Sparrow

Think about it, if you will, what is the essence of winemaking? A very important question.

  How about if wine is were made just from the juice and pulp. What an uninteresting beverage it would be. Alcohol only, with no aroma and no flavour. Spirits are not so uninteresting.

  All of the chemical compounds which make wine such an interesting beverage are to be found in the skins, maybe a few in the seeds. These compounds include colour phenolics and the complex of flavour and aroma compounds which help to make varietal wines so distinctive.

  So the answer to my rhetorical question is: the essence of good winemaking is in skin extraction.

  This leads then to the important question of how winery practices might be conducted to facilitate extraction from the skins. I remember well my friend Dr Chris Somers, distinguished wine phenolic scientist from the Australian Wine Research Institute making the statement: ”everything that winemakers want in their wines is to be found in the pomace”. In other words the standard winemaking factors is inefficient at extraction from the skins.

How can Extraction from the Skins be Improved?

  I have long thought about this remark made by Chris Somers and wondered how might extraction from grape skins be improved. I had the opportunity to investigate some solutions to this problem in 2011. As part of my consultancy with Tamar Ridge Wines near Launceston in Tasmania we had established an experimental winery. This allowed us to make pilot scale fermentations to evaluate vineyard trials aimed to improve wine quality.

  This facility (in fact a converted apple-packing cum sheep-shearing shed) also offered the possibility for Angela Sparrow and I to investigate how the extraction from grape skins might be improved. Angela initially worked as a technician in the experimental winery before enrolling as a PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania in 2011.

  Our first effort was a modification to fermenter design which showed little promise. The second was the light bulb moment. We figured that a simple way to improve skin extraction would be to make skin particles smaller (skin fragmentation), so that they had a larger edge to surface area ratio. There would be a smaller diffusion path of skin constituents to the skin edge from smaller rather than larger skin particles. So extraction would be enhanced.

  We find in fact that most grape berries coming out of commercial crushers are simply squashed or flattened, each with a rather small broken skin edge. We call this phenomenon “flattened spheres”, each “envelope” often contains skin and seeds. We analysed a sample of Pinot Gris berries from a Bucher Vaslin crusher, and found that there were 181 flattened spheres, and only 12 skin fragments.

  We evaluated fragmenting grape skins simply using a laboratory blender. We were of course mindful that such an operation should not damage the seeds, and careful checking revealed that this was the case. Therefore we proceeded to make experiments using our micro-vinification techniques, and found that the color and phenolic extraction of Pinot Noir was greatly improved, and sensory evaluation showed that so was the wine quality. We were of course thrilled!

agar plates
Figure 1

  Figure 1 shows Pinot Noir must samples one hour after treatment. The sample on the left shows typical flattened spheres after crushing, with limited color diffusion. The sample on the right was crushed then fragmented, and see the difference in color extraction!

Confirming the Results

  The intensive study by Angela of grape skin fragmentation for her PhD created a considerable number of scientific publications, including both wine chemistry and sensory evaluation verification of the concept. Angela developed the term “ACE” to describe the process, the acronym standing for Accentuated Cut Edges. The first paper in the series was published in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture in 2016. It was entitled “Reducing skin particle size affects the phenolic attributes of Pinot Noir wine. Proof of concept.” Other papers followed including wine chemistry and sensory evaluation. Always ACE shone through, producing better Pinot Noir wines.

  For the next six years Angela’s studies progressed from small ferments to those in commercial wineries, helped in part by an industry research grant. A prototype machine to achieve ACE was designed and developed, and allowed ACE evaluation at commercial scale.

Enter Della Toffola and DTMA

  The machine, the scientific results and wine samples were shown to Giacomo Della Toffola in Tasmania. The large Italian winery equipment company Della Toffola then proposed a joint venture with Richard Smart and Angela Sparrow to further the development commercially. The result is the DTMA machine, DTMA being the acronym for Della Toffola Maceration Accelerator.

  This machine was evaluated as a prototype by Angela in Australia, New Zealand and Italy in 2016 and 2017. The DTMA machine is now commercially available in a range of capacities through the international dealerships of Della Toffola (see

Della Toffola Maceration Accelerator

  The machine is shown in Figure 2. It is relatively small and portable, and is connected by hoses between the crusher and the fermenter.

  Coriole winery of McLaren Vale, South Australia was the first to purchase DTMA in Australia following trials conducted there by Dr Angela Sparrow. More recently the unit has been used in experiments by several researchers from the University of Adelaide. Trials have been conducted as well in California during the 2019 vintage which will be reported in the future.

Using ACE to Improve Chambourcin Tannins in Missouri

  Interspecific hybrid wines are generally much lower than vinifera in final tannin content. This is in spite of some hybrid grapes having appreciable tannins in their skin and seeds. Several studies have pointed to hybrids as having trouble with tannin extraction and retention during winemaking.

  This has led researchers at the University of Missouri in the U.S. to investigate the efficacy of ACE treatment on cv. Chambourcin.  Alex Fredrickson, PhD. student in Misha Kwasniewski’s lab, presented preliminary results of the study at the 2019 Eastern Section of the American Society of Enology and Viticulture. Alex found that ACE treatment at crush and immediately before pressing substantially increased final tannin concentration in the wines versus control, in measurements made 6-months after pressing, as measured by Adams-Harbertson assay.

  ACE at crush yielded 146 mg/L catechin equivalents (CE), ACE 24 hours to pressing was 118 mg/L CE, whereas control was only 47 mg/L CE. ACE at crushing  represents a massive 310% increase in tannin! This work was part of a larger investigation that included looking into exogenous tannin addition retention as well as tannin protein interactions. The ACE treated wines were similar in concentration to a massive exogenous tannin addition of 1400mg/l at either 20° Brix (1-day after inoculation) or later at 5° Brix.

  These results suggest that ACE treatment either released a large enough amount of tannin to overcome whatever factor is causing poor retention of exogenous additions, or alternatively that the ACE treatment somehow is mediating the problem. No differences were found between total protein content in ACE treated wines or control immediately after pressing; this suggests that the protein-tannin interactions may not explain the increase. Further characterization of the proteins is ongoing.

  Given the promising results the work was repeated in 2019. As this work moves forward the group will be looking into impacts on wine volatiles, the consistency of treatment impacts on Chambourcin and potentially other interspecific hybrids. As well, studies continue into the underlying mechanism for the dramatic increase found in the 2018 results.


  Giacomo Della Toffola believes that the ACE process achieved with DTMA will be a “revolution in winemaking”, his impression when he first viewed the results of ACE research.

  Interestingly Della Toffola has been awarded an esteemed Innovation Award in Winemaking at the 2019 SIMEI Winemaking exhibition in Milano Italy.

  Continuing research has shown that ACE/DTMA can considerably save winemaking costs, some of which are accentuated by vintage compression and climate change. Earlier research by Angela Sparrow has shown that following ACE treatment, red wine ferments can be taken off skins after only three days, thus allowing more use of specialized red wine fermenters and with savings in cellar labor. Early results with DTMA have shown encouraging results with aromatic white wines.

  For further information about ACE contact Angela Sparrow ( or Richard Smart (; for DTMA contact

1.  Dr Richard Smart: Smart Viticulture, Greenvale, Vic., Australia;

2.  Dr Misha Kwasniewski: Grape and Wine Institute, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, 65211, USA.

3.  Alex Fredickson & Dr Angela Sparrow: Vintessential, Laguna, Tas., Australia

Crush Pad Design Considerations Before Building Your Winery

Wine grapes ready for crushing
Wine grapes ready for crushing, Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia

By: Thomas J. Payette, Winemaking Consultant

The crush pad design of a winery is one of the most critical areas of the winery.  Much of the hard work, in making wine, happens on the crush pad especially during harvest.  Make sure to design and implement all aspects of the desired needs into the crush pad of your functional winemaking facility.  Below are some broad and expandable review points that apply to most, if not all, crush pads.

Weather:  Often grapes are picked based on weather.  Realistically, if inclement weather is forecasted the vineyard and winery team may make a decision to pick a variety before that forecasted event.  This will often mean that the crushing and pressing of that fruit may happen during poor weather conditions.  For this reason and for protection from all the elements, including hot sunshine, it is recommended the crush pad have a roof or cover over it.    Be sure to have ample ceiling height under the cover so as not to restrict certain activities such as dumping fruit into hoppers by way of forklift.

Cost:  This will be some of the least expensive square footage you will build at your winery.  Make sure to have enough room to handle the bulky mass of grapes so that the fruit may be crushed or processed into their respective least bulky state whether it is juice or must.  Make sure the concrete floor, if used, is thick enough to handle forklift traffic and that the finish has enough aggregate (rough surface) to make sure foot and vehicle traffic will have ample traction on the surface.  Because this will be some of the least cost in terms of square footage be sure to battle building planners that may want to reduce the amount of crush pad space allocated in the plans.

Plumbing:  Think through your operations anticipated on the crush pad.  Then use critical thought as to where certain needs for water are.  Winterizable plumbing, hot and cold, should be placed so hoses can be used but out of the way of foot and vehicle traffic, including doorways.  Size the lines to the area to allow for ample flow and encourage the plumbing contractor to use full port handled ball valves and to not use standard boiler valves for water supply.  Plan mechanical “stub outs” is this area if this area is planned to be the future expansion area of the winery buildings growth.

Wiring:  Make sure to think through plug outlet placement in respect to how it will service each piece of equipment anticipated, use the shortest length of cord and placed so the cords remain out of the way of foot and vehicle traffic.  Examples of operations that will need power are:  Press, pump, crusher, must pump, sorting table(s), shaker(s) and perhaps a few extra outlets if multiple operations will be happening in alternate work areas.  Make sure these electric outlets have weather proof closures and possibly set up on GFI’s ( Ground Fault Interrupters ).  Ample work lighting, including lighting to view into tractor trailers, should be addressed and ample 110 volts outlets should exist.  Review if ceiling fans are desired on your crush pad and if so – place them high above the floor to allow for forklift activity.  Review if any “mood lighting” is desired on a marketing level outside crushing hours.  Make sure to know what power service is run to your building in terms of amps and how many phases (single vs. three phase).  Additional wiring needs may be for internet access, cameras, intercoms, phone etc.

Drains:  A critical feature of the crush pad due to the large volume of water and cleaning used.  Proper sloping floors to these drains should be used so water will gravitate toward them without the assistance of a squeegee   If portions of the crush pad are not covered, make sure to place a three-way valve from the drain to redirect storm and rain water to a more proper location (review local building suggestions).  Review the need for a catch basin to strain solids from the crush pad effluent.  Make sure these drains will withstand the heavy forklift and equipment traffic.

Walls:  The walls on the crush pad should be durable and reasonably easy to clean.  Concrete, cinderblock, tile or other physically strong materials should be considered for at least the first 40 inches of height of the walls.  These are reasonably cleaned and very durable to resist bumping from pallet jacks, forklifts, tractors and other heavy items.  Above the 40 inches, if the masonry is not extended, perhaps look at an easily cleaned attractive and durable surface such a metal or vinyl siding materials.

Flooring Surface:  Mentioned earlier but worth re-emphasizing.  Make sure the surface of the flooring will handle all predicted vehicles, such as pallet jacks and forklifts, in terms of its thickness and PSI ratings.  Also make sure the surface has enough aggregate finish to avoid slipping of foot and vehicle traffic.

Mirrors:  An easy tool to implement, and rarely considered, if certain areas are difficult for forklift and machinery operators to see.  Try and locate a mirror placement that will allow sight to that area.  This could be in, near and around door ways.  Another area nice for mirrors is above any equipment that has high hoppers filled by forklift.  This will allow the operator to remain on the forklift, yet, be able to see inside the hopper to know all the fruit has moved through the hopper before adding more or closing a press door for example.

Catwalks:  Study your crush pad operation to determine if you need catwalks to service, operate and clean certain machinery.  Can these catwalks have dual purpose by allowing winery production staff access the catwalk while also allowing tour guides to accompany tour traffic through the same area?  This can be a great marketing tool as well as a great working tool.  Some wineries have successfully placed their hopper to the press along a catwalk so winery workers may rinse and clean that hopper carefully from that catwalk location. The same area can be used for customer tours.

Crush Pad Access Into Building:  Many wineries opt for a lay out that gives access to the tank room from the crush pad.  Often this is the first place the juices or must will go so that layout makes logical sense.  Try and have easy access to the lab, also, so winemakers can easily assess the fruit and corrections, if desired, can be made quickly and easily. 

Crush Pad Access from Outside:  Makes sure to plan for forklift, pallet jack, truck, tractor trailer and drive on traffic by way of tractor and wagon.  Most designs have at least two tractor trailer loading dock stations so one may park a refer semi on the premise to chill fruit as needed.  Another dock may be used to receive fruit or other items by way of tractor trailer.  If possible include a height to load a box truck or pick up with some relative ease and then make sure vineyard tractors and wagons may drive on the crush pad for delivery and perhaps pomace removal from the crush pad.  Many smart winery setups elevate their presses high enough in the air so that pomace may be dumped directly into a wagon or manure spreader to remove that pomace quickly and efficiently with little shoveling. Think this through when deciding on placement of the equipment.

Building Door Access Placement:  Make sure to have at least one people door, with glass panes , and one larger overhead door, with see though/drive through plastic strip doors added.  The overhead door is usually where large tanks are brought in and out of the winery.  New glass shipments, if arriving at this loading dock will need to have access to the building and this door is often the door of choice due to its proximity to the loading dock.

Thresholds:  Make sure to design most of the crush pad, as well as the complete winery building, with minimal raised thresholds in doorways or between floors so as to allow for easy movements of items by way of pallet jack, forklift, dolly etc.

Vineyard Safety Assistance:  If your winery has vineyard operations on the property or close by, review if one may place the potentially required outdoor chemical safety shower on the crush pad in case of emergency.  Check with someone who knows locality regulations to see if this is an option at reasonable savings.  In many cases this same shower may be enough for the winery lab and production needs.

Non-Stationary Equipment:  If your winery has movable equipment make sure to place electric outlets appropriately to service these pieces of equipment.  Plan to be able to crush reds and to press whites simultaneously if possible.  Many pieces of equipment come with short flexible electric cords to them so take a proactive step, before crush, to replace them with reasonable length cords so as to allow various configurations and flexibility in their set-up.  Not each grape with go through the exact same process and the winery will benefit from this flexibility.

Stationary Equipment:  Make sure stationary equipment is placed strategically to allow it to function properly.  Make sure, for example, that a press is placed far enough away from a wall to allow its juice pan to be moved so a pomace wagon may pull underneath for unloading.

Protective Corners:  Wall corners, by way of some form of angle iron type material, to protect from day to day traffic and worker abuse are a great asset.  These areas often have hoses and cords pulled through them and they wear easily.  It is best to protect them. Other areas to need protection may be around mechanical equipment or winemaking gases such as :  Nitrogen, Carbon dioxide, Argon, Liquid Sulfur Dioxide and now Oxygen.  Pilings best protect these areas from larger traffic issues.

Sight Into Cellar:  If possible make sure the winemaking staff can see into the cellar from the crush pad.  Often transfers are being made and a design that allows visual inspection that the transfer is happening as expected is important.  This function can be a simple as glass paned doors as mentioned above.  Other groups have used cameras to assist the winemaking team confirm their valuable juice or wine moves safely from the crush pad to the cellar or vice-versa.

Hose Access to Cellar:  Many wineries now have openings, usually oversized PVC pipes through the walls, of the buildings so small wine transfer lines may be run through them.  This helps eliminate leaving cellar doors open during the crush allowing cold air to escape and more than likely large amounts of fruit fly access.  These may be used additionally for water hoses and electric lines, if unplanned for in the lay out.  I recommend two PVC “sleeves” with plugs at a minimum place about two inches above the crush pad floor with a slight fall back toward the crush pad so wine, juice and water will drain out on the crush pad for proper cleaning/disposal. 

Gravity:  Keep in mind the crush pad placement if gravity is desired to be used and how that feature will integrate into the rest of the structure and winemaking processes.  Must can transfer into the tanks by way of gravity if the crush pad is elevated higher than the tanks.  Other ways to achieve gravity are by way of forklift.  Be sure to work with all winery personnel and designers to make sure these areas are discussed and completely thought through.   The forklift should be the only machine (see below) that is critical in your process.  This machine is typically easily fixed or replaced on short notice.  Always place a few calls before crush to have a plan “B” as close to your potential needs as desired.

Forklift:  Often the most utilized piece of equipment for moving materials during the crush on the crush pad.  Gravity may be achieved easily with a forklift.  Heavy items are also easily moved from one point to another.  Allow plenty of space for the forklift operator to have adequate space to perform these tasks easily.

Over Thinking Your Processes:  Make sure that your crush pad set up is not so rigid that production on the crush doesn’t have some flexibility.  Imagine if one machine, in a series of machines, were to become broken.  Can a crushing set up plan exist to skip that machine or does the complete process come to a halt?  Make sure the winemaker has enough “stage”, if you will, to have several variations in production choices.

Emergency Processing:  Similar to over thinking the process above.  Imagine poor weather has been persistent for many days during harvest.  Projections of more poor weather are predicted and you are rapidly losing your crop and/or quality.  Contract growers and estate vineyard crews are grumbling.  You can’t keep enough labor at your sorting table and/or you choose not to sort.  Can this process or any other parts in your process be skipped, at will, to not loose or jeopardize the complete vintage?  Perhaps a break down occurs with one of the machines.  Can they be worked around or does this bring the complete processing to a stop?

Equipment:  Make sure when planning your winery and crush pad to think through all the pieces of equipment that may needed.  Make sure ample space is provided on the crush pad for these items.  A starter list of equipment may include but not be limited to :  Press; crusher-stemmer; must pump, pump, sorting table(s); shaker(s) and other(s).  Make sure enough power, light, refrigeration, compressed air or other needs are supplied to the crush area to support these selected pieces of equipment.

Non Crush Pad Use:  I always like to think of the winery as a large refrigerator.  I often will move barrels, on racks by way of forklift, from the winery and work with them on the crush pad when possible.  This allows me to access the barrels fully for a quality control check and to work with them for such activities as racking, stirring, topping, adjustments and making blends.  Working on the crush pad allows more efficient use of the winery square footage inside for storage and minimizing utilities associated with the winery power usage.

Crush Pad Café:  Using this term loosely to suggest other activities can happen on the crush pad area.  This could include tables and chairs, picnics and other winery marketing functions.  Small heaters can make the season longer for this type of use.  Winery personnel often want to hide the machinery associated with processing grapes but we must remember customers often find it interesting if it is clean and safely arranged on the crush pad.

Noise:  Be sure to have mechanicals such as HVAC compressors and glycol units placed with enough distance from the crush pad.  This will assist in better employee communication and help with the use of this area for marketing functions.  Often architects and builders see this ample flat area as a place to station these mechanical units.  Be certain to tackle this topic well in advance to make for better planning and smoother operations both at building and during upcoming harvests. 

Future Building:  If the crush pad will eventually be another part of your winery building planned in the future, make sure to include the infrastructure to support those plans into the mechanical aspects of the crush pad.  This could include footers to code where load bearing walls are projected to be constructed, plumbing stub outs, electrical trunk feeds etc.

Regulatory:  Make sure to review your plat and bonded area before moving forward with some of the operations mentioned above.  In many cases wines being handled on the crush pad means that area should be bonded.  In other cases such as social events taxed wine may not be allowed back onto a bonded premise area.  Review the needs of your winery to see if multiple uses may be possible  in one form or another.

Ancillary Thoughts:

• Will a large water tank, elevated high, be mounted on/near the crush pad to fill a sprayer rapidly?

• If production and tour catwalks are used to service both needs simultaneously?  Will rinsing water overspray be an issue?

• Will employees respect the crush pad space by keeping it organized and not parking personal vehicles on it during working hours?

• Will extra unused pallets be stored on the crush pad and if so where?

  Summary:  When thinking of the crush pad it is best to list everything one may want to do in the space.  Try to think in terms in how each operation can be done with the least amount of physical effort, maximizing quality, and employ those ideas.  “How can I do the best possible job with my fruit, wine and marketing with the absolute minimal effort?”  Make it a pleasure to work at your winery structure with ample planning on the crush pad.

Reach Tom by phone: 540-672-0387 or

Anatomy of a Trademark Case

trademark law tag

By: Brian D. Kaider, Esq.

In earlier articles, I have discussed the benefits of federal registration of trademarks, how they differ from patents and copyrighted materials, and how far you should go to protect your marks.  But, when someone decides to take the ultimate step to initiate litigation, I find that they often have little understanding of the process, the timelines, the costs, and the burdens involved.  This article is meant to give a high-level view of what a litigation entails, either at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or in federal court.

Two Venues

  If your goal is to oppose the pending registration of another person’s trademark, or to cancel such a registration after it issues, you will generally bring your case to the USPTO’s Trademark Trials and Appeals Board (TTAB).   On the other hand, if you believe that someone is infringing your trademark and you want to seek monetary damages, you will file a lawsuit in a U.S. District Court.  There is overlap in these proceedings; for example, you can seek to cancel a registered trademark as part of a court case, but there are differences as well; e.g., you cannot seek monetary damages at the TTAB.  Generally, though, the processes in both venues are similar.

Before Filing – Due Diligence

  Whether at the TTAB or in federal court, before you file your case, you are obligated to ensure that you have a proper basis for doing so.   Your attorney will ask many questions and likely want to see some documentation.  This is their due diligence process to see whether you have reasonable grounds to bring your case and to assess your likelihood of success in the matter.  They are looking for such issues as: whether you own a valid trademark and have standing to bring the case; whether the other party has a valid trademark and, if so, which party has priority in its rights; the similarity of the two trademarks and their channels of trade; evidence of when and how the other party has used its mark, etc.  If, after reviewing these materials, the attorney agrees that you have a reasonable basis for your case, they will draft the initial filing documents.  In the TTAB, these would be a Notice of Opposition or a Petition for Cancellation; in federal court, it would be a Complaint.  For simplicity sake, I will refer to all of these documents as complaints.

Filing the Complaint

  Your attorney will synthesize the material you provide into a complaint.  While complaints have a required structure that is somewhat dry and formulaic, because it is the first opportunity to educate the TTAB or judge as to what the case is about, it should paint a very clear picture of how you have been aggrieved and the other party is responsible.  The cost of this stage of the case will depend upon the complexity of the issues and, of course, your attorney’s hourly rate.  For a complex case, it may take as much as 30-40 hours of attorney time to do the legal research, analysis, investigation, and draft the complaint.  The government filing fees for the complaint, whether at the TTAB or in federal court are $400.


  This is the stage of litigation of which clients tend to have the least understanding, and for good reason.  It’s a complex array of processes and rules and is frequently the source of many disputes between the parties.  For this reason, it is also often the most expensive part of the litigation process.

  As a general matter, “discovery” is the process through which you get information from the other side in order to try to prove your case.  In both TTAB proceedings and court litigations, the discovery process is fairly broad, meaning that you are allowed to ask for a wide array of information from the other side.  Court litigations, however, are broader in scope because, for example, those cases usually involve monetary damages, which are not at issue in TTAB proceedings. This is also one of the reasons that court litigations are more expensive.

  There are four basic tools in discovery: interrogatories, requests for production, requests for admission, and depositions. 

Interrogatories are simply questions you ask the other side and they are required to answer.  For example, you might ask the other party to describe the dates and circumstances under which they created and adopted their trademark. 

Requests for production are how you ask the other party to provide you with documents or other tangible items in their possession.  As an example, you might ask the other party to produce documents that demonstrate the geographic areas in which they have sold products under the challenged trademark. 

Requests for admission are statements of fact that you ask the other side to admit or deny.  These can be useful to narrow the issues and pin your opponent down on specific points.  For example, you might ask the other party to admit that they did not use their trademark before a particular date. 

Depositions are probably the most dreaded discovery tool.  Through a deposition, you subpoena a witness to physically appear in a room with your attorney and to answer questions under oath in the presence of a stenographer and/or video recorder that will take down their every word.  Depending upon the complexity of the case, these depositions may last as long as 7 hours, each.

  Often, there will be several rounds of written discovery between the parties before depositions are taken.  This enables the parties to review the documents and narrow the issues so they may ask more pointed questions of the deposition witnesses.  This written discovery process can be lengthy, arduous, and disruptive to the parties’ businesses.  The parties generally have 30 days to respond to each discovery request, so the whole discovery process can take anywhere from several months to several years in more complicated cases. 

In addition to drafting and responding to each other’s requests, the attorneys will often have protracted discovery disputes, arguing about the scope of the requests, the disclosure of confidential business information, or the application of attorney-client privilege.  Most clients dramatically underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete discovery, the amount of time and effort they will have to spend in collecting documents and responding to requests, and the costs involved. 


  All of the discovery issues mentioned above relate to what are called “fact witnesses.”  This can be anyone who has factual information relevant to the case.  In most instances, the requests will be directed to the company and/or individual owners or employees of the company.  In some cases, the litigants may also seek discovery from third parties who have no direct involvement in the matter, but nevertheless have information relevant to the case.  There is another category of discovery, however, relating to expert witnesses.

  In trademark cases, experts will sometimes be called by one or both sides to provide opinions as to whether there is a likelihood that the relevant public will be confused as to the source of goods due to the similarity of the two trademarks.  Sometimes these experts will conduct surveys of the public.  The experts will then draft a written report of their findings and stating their opinions.  The other side will usually then take a deposition of the expert to try to expose weaknesses in their opinions.  While experts can be extremely useful, they also dramatically add to the cost of the litigation due to their fees as well as the cost of associated discovery.


  Throughout the case, but particularly after discovery, each party may file a variety of motions with the TTAB or court.  A motion is a document requesting the court to decide an issue.  For example, if the other party refuses to provide certain requested documents, you might file a motion to compel, asking the court to require the party to produce the documents.  There may also be motions to dismiss the case, motions for sanctions for abusing the discovery process, motions to exclude evidence or disqualify an expert, and many more.  After discovery is completed, the parties will often file a motion for summary judgment, in which the party claims that there are no material facts in dispute between the parties and therefore they are entitled to win the case as a matter of law.

  With all motions, the other party will have an opportunity to file a written opposition to the motion.  In some cases, the motion will be decided by the court just on the basis of these written briefs, but for more complex issues, the parties or the court may request an oral hearing to present the issues to the court in-person.


  Up to this point, the processes at the TTAB and in federal court are very similar.  This is where they diverge significantly. 

  At the TTAB, the plaintiff will have a period of time in which they may present evidence to the board in support of their case.  They first have to make “pre-trial disclosures,” telling the board and the other party what witnesses they will present, for example.  Then there will be a “trial” period during which they present their case: they will submit various documents and affidavits, and may take testimonial depositions of the witnesses either through live testimony or written questions. At the conclusion of this period, the defendant will have an opportunity to do the same.  The plaintiff will then have an additional period for rebuttal.  Once these “trial” periods are complete, each side will have an opportunity to file a brief, arguing the facts to the board.  This entire process from the beginning of the plaintiff’s trial phase, to the filing of the last brief, may take as long as 9-10 months.  Upon completion of the briefs, one or both parties may ask the board for an oral hearing.  After all of the briefs are completed and, if requested, the hearing has taken place, the Board will then take all of the evidence under consideration and render its decision.  This process may take several more months.

  By contrast, a trial in federal court is the process with which people are more familiar.  As with a TTAB proceeding, the parties will make certain disclosures to the court and may argue about what evidence may be presented, but the trial phase itself is what people typically expect.  It is a live process in front of a jury and/or judge in which the parties may call witnesses to testify and may present physical evidence for the court’s consideration.  It is a more interactive process, where each side may cross examine each other’s witnesses immediately.  The whole trial process generally may take a couple days to several weeks.


  Whether at the TTAB or in federal court, a trademark litigation is a lengthy, costly, and exhausting endeavor.  Whenever possible, parties should attempt alternative means to resolve disputes that are far less burdensome.  But, when litigation cannot be avoided, the parties should at least have a full understanding of the timeline, the processes, and the costs involved.  While most cases at the TTAB and in federal court settle, the parties should be prepared for the case to go all the way through trial.  Every case is different, but parties should expect a trademark case to take 1 ½ –  2 years to complete, sometimes more.  A TTAB case that goes to trial will certainly cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and often will reach six figures.  A federal court case will start in the hundreds of thousands and may reach seven figures in more complicated matters.  It is imperative that the parties have a full and frank discussion with their attorneys about all of the issues discussed herein.

  Brian Kaider is a principal of KaiderLaw, an intellectual property law firm with extensive experience in the craft beverage industry.  He has represented clients from the smallest of start-up breweries to Fortune 500 corporations in the navigation of regulatory requirements, drafting and negotiating  contracts, prosecuting trademark and patent applications, and complex commercial litigation., (240) 308-8032

RED BLOTCH DISEASE: Update & Importance of Producing Clean Planting Stock

red veins on leaves
Close up view of Grapevine red blotch virus foliar symptoms

By: Judit Monis, Ph.D.

Early this year I wrote about the Grapevine red blotch virus (GRBV) infection status of vines in the University of California at Davis Foundation block (also known as the Russell Ranch Foundation block).  In this article I will update the reader on GRBV biology as well as the disease status of the Russell Ranch foundation block.  In spite of all the management activities performed to control the spread of the virus, the latest testing results showed a drastic increase in infection of the vines planted in the Russell Ranch foundation block.

Grapevine Red Blotch Disease is Caused by GRBV

  Grapevine red blotch virus is different from most other known grapevine infecting viruses in that its genetic material is DNA, rather than RNA.  Both the molecular and structural characterization has placed GRBV in a new genus Grablovirus within the Geminiviridae family.   Because grapevine viruses are not mechanically transmissible to grapevines, it has been difficult to demonstrate Koch’s postulates.

The postulates state that a pathogen must be isolated in pure form from a symptomatic plant, later introduced to a healthy plant, and cause the same disease symptoms seen in the original infected plant from which the virus was isolated.  Koch’s postulates show the “cause and effect” of a virus, in other words, demonstrate that a specific virus is responsible for the symptoms observed in infected vines.  As hard as it has been for researchers to complete Koch’s postulates with grapevine viruses, Dr. Marc Fuchs team at Cornell University was able to show, using recombinant DNA technology, that GRBV genetic material can reproduce red blotch foliar symptoms in red fruited grapevine varieties.   This is why now we call this virus Grapevine red blotch and not Grapevine red blotch associated virus (i.e., other grapevine viruses have the associated word because Koch’s postulates have not been completed).

  To date it appears that GRBV is a North American virus, although the virus was detected in Chinese, Korean, Swiss, and most recently in Argentine vineyards, it appears that the material originated in North America.  In contrast, other viruses such as grapevine leafroll associated viruses have a world-wide distribution (i.e., it is found everywhere grapevines are grown).  In spite of the recent discovery of Grapevine red blotch virus, it was found in a UC Davis grapevine herbarium specimen indicating that this virus has been present in Californian vineyards since the 1940s. 

Even for an experienced professional like me, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish leafroll from red blotch disease in the vineyard.  This is especially true with red-fruited grapevine varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Pinot Noir. That is why it is so important to confirm the presence of the virus with laboratory diagnostic tests.

Grapevine Red Blotch Disease Transmission and Spread

  Grapevine red blotch virus is graft transmissible and predominantly propagated by producing cuttings of infected rootstock and scion material.  In the recent years the vectored transmission of GRBV has been determined.  Work by researchers at Cornell University and the University of California showed that the three-cornered alfalfa tree hopper (Spissistilus festinus) is able to transmit the virus under laboratory and greenhouse conditions. The three-cornered alfalfa tree hopper insect prefers to feed in legumes, grasses, and shrubs.  However, the discovery of a potential vector cannot explain the reason for the sudden discovery and rapid spread of GRBV in vineyards.  While research continues to determine if other vectors are capable of transmitting GRBV it is obvious that the rapid expansion of this virus in vineyards was due to unknowingly propagating and grafting cuttings from infected vines.

Do We Really Understand GRBV Biology?

  Recent work performed at Cornell University has shown a seasonal and uneven distribution of GRBV in grapevines.  This contrasts the work performed in my laboratory with samples from field grown vines.  My research program ( showed that red blotch virus can be detected from any portion of the vine in high concentrations.  In other words, red blotch virus can be detected in newly expanded as well as mature leaves, petioles, lignified or green canes, as well as cordons and trunks.  Further, red blotch virus was detectable throughout the different seasons of the year in samples collected from known infected vineyards in California.  The discrepancy might be due to a potential latent period needed for virus to move and colonize vines. 

The Russell Ranch Foundation Block Virus Status

  Keeping important viruses such as the ones that cause leafroll and red blotch diseases out of productive vineyards relies on clean planting stock programs.  In California, the Grapevine Registration and Certification (R&C) is administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).  A Few years ago, a new block with progeny vines produced with tissue culture and thoroughly tested using the “Protocol 2010” were planted in the UC Davis Russell Ranch block.  The foundation block is located in close proximity to research plots (some include trials of grapevine virus infected vines) and the town and is routinely tested by the UC Davis Foundation Plant Services (FPS) Personnel.  Last year in November, FPS scientists reported the progressive spread of GRBV in the Russell Ranch block.  To summarize, four vines were found infected with GRBV in 2017, in 2018 the number increased to 24 vines, in 2019 the testing results yielded over 300 vines infected with the virus.  Fortunately, FPS has suspended the sale of vines from the Russell Ranch block until further notice.  However, potentially nurseries may have propagated vines from mother plants that were infected with the virus and could continue to disperse the virus to their mother blocks and newly planted vineyards.


  Guidelines are not available on the required distance between nursery and/or foundation blocks from commercial or potentially infected vineyards.  It is expected that transmission of harmful viruses will continue to occur if certified blocks are not carefully monitored and kept in isolation.  The current situation of the CDFA R&C vines demonstrates the need for more applied research to mitigate disease in nursery and foundation blocks.  Due to the progressive spread of GRBV in the Russell Ranch Foundation Block, it appears that the only solution to produce clean planting stock is to start anew

  Unfortunately, no back up tissue culture material of the varieties planted at the Russell Ranch Foundation Block are available.   However, siblings from some of the varieties subjected to tissue culture were planted in the Classic (older) foundation.  In the future, these siblings (numbered 02 rather than 01) will be tested using the Protocol 2010 to make them available for purchase. To obtain virus free plants, the meristem tissue culture technique will need to be applied for the elimination of GRVB.  Once new plants are produced, these will need to be protected from new infections.  For best results, vines should be grown in insect proof greenhouses or screenhouses, and in geographical areas where grapevines are not grown.  It is also advisable to keep a backup of all vine material in case infection is detected in the future.  In the meanwhile, it will be imperative for nurseries and growers to carefully determine the health status of propagated material prior to distribution and planting to avoid multiplying and introducing infected vines to the vineyard.

  Judit Monis, Ph.D. provides specialized services to help growers, vineyard managers, and nursery personnel avoid the propagation and transmission of disease caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses in their vineyard blocks.  Judit (based in California) is fluent in Spanish and is available to consult in all wine grape growing regions of the word.  Please visit for information or contact to request a consulting session at your vineyard.

2020 The Year of Personalization

tablet applications bursting out of the screen
Businessman hand using tablet with flying application icons around

By: Scott Moss and Susan DeMatei

According to Forbes, 2020 is going to be the year of personalized marketing. The current opinion is that we are all so bombarded with advertising and emails that we now tune out anything that isn’t specifically relevant to us. When Ad Age asked executives the one thing anyone could do to impact their marketing in the future, a full third of them answered “personalization.” And Conversant Media noted 94% of customer insights and marketing professionals they surveyed listed personalization as either “important,” “very important,” or “extremely important” for meeting their current marketing objectives.

  Back in the 1990’s when the internet and data tracking was young, there was a public outcry concerning privacy and personalization. Individuals were nervous about the newly formed “cookie” technology and didn’t like being tracked online and were suspicious about loyalty cards being scanned at checkout in stores. But now, we take it for granted that when you leave something in a cart you’re going to see an ad for it the next time you log in to Facebook, and we don’t feel creeped out when we buy kitty litter at the grocery store and we get a coupon for cat food along with our receipt.

  Personalization is everywhere and we’re used to it and we like it – which makes the blanket, non-personalized communications all the more blatantly lazy and unappealing. According to an online Epsilon survey of 1,000 consumers ages 18-64, the appeal for personalization is high, with 80% of respondents indicating they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences, and 90% indicating that they find personalization appealing.

  And, personalization does work. In multiple studies, personalized ads and emails are perceived as more engaging, educational, time-saving, and memorable than mass advertising or emails. Experian reports personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates. And, with new affordable tools, there really isn’t an excuse for mass marketing anymore.

  What this means is that we can no longer rely on mass, generic email blasts to our customers and expect the returns we did in the past. Our buyers are now empowered, and their expectations are high in the messaging and advertising they receive. In the Age of the Customer, we need to be smarter about how we communicate.

  The good thing is, this doesn’t require us to restructure our entire marketing plan. Here are three simple things we can do today to improve the way we interact with our customers on a more personal level:


  List segmentation is the quickest way to personalize messages to customers. It can be as simple as creating an email for recent visitors to your tasting room or website purchasers.  Sending these customers, a thank you email 30-days after their visit or purchase is a great way to personalize and engage with a follow-up offer.  You can add a deeper level of personalization if your email provider gives you the ability to insert the customer’s first name in the body copy.

  Additionally, each email can be more personal by modifying the subject line with the purchase location, “Thank you for visiting our tasting room,” or “Thank you or your online purchase.”  Although this may require two email sends, it refines the touchpoint and serves as a reminder of the customer experience.

  Start Crawling: Set up some automatic emails like “abandon cart” and “thank you for visiting.”

  Learn to walk: Take your email list segmentation beyond Wine Club and Non-Club into purchase history. To do this, divide your list into first-time buyers, repeat buyers, and non-buyers/prospects. Then, for every campaign, tailor the message for each. For first-time purchasers give them easy second purchase options similar to their first, for repeat buyers offer them volume or shipping discounts, and for prospects, tell them a little more about yourself and offer a trial package.

  Learn to run: Combine the two. First, set up ongoing automated campaigns (called “drip” campaigns) that remind people they’ve left items in their cart, or that they haven’t logged in to rate or buy a product, or to thank them for an order. Then, take a look at your campaigns in 2020 and brainstorm how you can segment them by purchase or other behavior.


  Sending personalized communications to customers that include a call to action should take them to a page on your website that corresponds to the offer in your email. Keeping the customer journey with our brands consistent is a key component in lowering attrition and increasing sales.

  This requires creating a page template within your website that can be easily duplicated and modified by changing the title, image, or copy to match your outbound communication. This enforces the personalized offer and brand consistency with your customers, while providing a clear path to purchase.

  Brand consistency is the pattern of expression that affects what people think about your company. The more consistent your messaging, the more consistent your branding — whether via words, design, offerings, or perspective. Your brand should build awareness and develop trust and loyalty with customers.

  Start Crawling: For those emails discussing several wines, rather than dumping the clicks at the top of the store page, set up a customized landing page and only include the wines in the email with a header and the offer.

  Learn to walk: For your social campaigns, try a separate landing page with introductory copy about your winery and why they should sign up for your mailing list or like/follow your winery.

  Learn to run: In addition to emails and social media, consider custom landing pages for most initiatives such as pouring events, coupon redemption, Google Ads, and print.


  A loyal customer is one that makes repeat purchases rather than switching to a competitor. A loyal customer will be more likely to purchase additional products and recommend your brand.

  Without digging too deeply into your data, a few key metrics can help identify your most loyal customers.  High average order value, buying frequency, and last purchase date is what you will need to start. These metrics can all be found in the customer purchase history of your database. When vetting your data, don’t assume that your best customers are also wine club members. However, if they are not, you may have a missed opportunity.

  After identifying your most loyal customers be sure to nurture the relationship, they are your best buyers for a reason. Knowing what they purchase, how often they purchase, and how much they spend per order will help guide you on when to reach out and with what offers.

  The communication and touches to these customers should be as a personal friend and offers should be presented as gifts. Offering a specially selected “pre-sale” wine or early event access will build continued loyalty. 

  Start Crawling: A handwritten note of thanks for attending an event or a customer referral is an easy way to start and goes a long way to keep your best customers.

  Learn to walk: Identify your top customers and find them on social media. Set up alerts for their posts and like and comment on them as your brand. They’ll be thrilled you care enough about their lives to get to know them.

  Learn to run: Look at your campaigns and give first dibs to your best buyers. Either offer them a pre-order capability or maybe access to the pick-up part a half hour in advance. Realize that discounts aren’t always what they’re after – they want a relationship and time with you.

  The true end result will look like taking your linear annual campaign calendar and splintering it into multiple, smaller, targeted communications that run simultaneously. It takes more work, but it’s worth it.

  Susan DeMatei is the President and Scott Moss is the Director of Operations of WineGlass Marketing, a full-service direct marketing firm working within the wine industry in Napa, California. 

Protect Events Hosted at Your Winery with Event Insurance

long table at a winery

By now, most winery owners have heard the buzz regarding event insurance.  Sure, you know it exists, but do you really know exactly what event insurance covers and how it can benefit your clients (and you)? Event insurance is a necessity for winery owners looking to keep themselves, and their clients, protected.  We recently talked with Lauren Hernandez, Senior Event Insurance Specialist at Markel Specialty insurance to learn more.

  “It is probably important to first point out that there are two different types of event insurance– event liability and event cancellation,” states Hernandez. 


  “Event liability protects the person hosting an event at your facility,” Hernandez explained.  If during their event someone causes property damage to your winery or someone is injured and the host is liable, an event policy will step in to provide coverage.  The coverage is typically primary over any other insurance protection.  That means the event policy will pay first before any other insurance policy.

  Primary liability coverage by event hosts, such as your clients, is preferred by most venues because it helps minimize the associated risks and exposures of owning a winery. “More and more wineries are requiring their clients to purchase one-day event insurance policies for events hosted at their facility because it reduces the possibility of having to pay for an accident that is out of the wineries’ control,” said Markel Specialty’s Lauren Hernandez. 

Wineries must also remember to require the host to name the winery as an Additional Insured on the host’s event policy.  That way, if there is a claim made against your winery due to the actions of the host, the event policy will defend and indemnify you against that claim.  It is also a good idea to require the host’s insurance carrier to be A.M. Best rated “A-” or better.  That way the carrier is financially strong and likely to be around to pay the claim should one occur.

  Examples of claims that would be covered under an event liability policy can range from damage to a furnishings such as couches, mirrors, coffee tables –   even toilets and landscaping from wedding or other event guests.  Event hosts would also be protected if someone slips, falls and gets injured at the facility if the host was negligent.  There are even worse claims that the event host needs protection from when an over-served wedding guest is involved in an auto accident on the way home.  These situations would be covered only if the damage or injury was the fault of your client.  Your business should have your own risk management plan which includes liability coverage to protect you from the hosts wrongdoing.


•   Limits vary by insurance carrier, but bodily injury and property damage liability limits typically are up to $1 million per occurrence and $2 million total per policy period.

•   The venue can be named as “additional insured” on the certificate of insurance for no extra cost.

•   Host liquor liability is included for free.

•   Set-up and tear-down is covered (within 24 hours of the event).

•   If the event being held at your facility is a wedding, an event liability policy covers the ceremony, reception and rehearsal dinner (if the rehearsal dinner is within 48 hours of the event).

•   Many policies are primary over any other insurance policy.  This means, if a claim were to occur, the event liability policy would pay out before any other insurance policy and there would be no need to worry about a potential increase in rates with a commercial business policy (as an winery owner) or homeowners policy (as a bride).

•   Protection and peace of mind for a low cost— there are policies available that start as low as $75.


  It protects you. One day event insurance policies are typically primary coverage over your commercial business policy for property damage to your facility caused by your client’s negligence. Your facility can be named as an “additional insured” on the certificate of insurance often for no extra cost.

  It protects your customers.  Event insurance is an easy and affordable solution that helps protect your guests from the unexpected – because when your clients are properly protected, so is your reputation.

  It’s an easy solution.  More and more commercial winery insurance policies are requiring one day event insurance for all events hosted at the insured winery.  An event liability policy fulfills this requirement and are easy to purchase and you can direct your client to purchase them online or over the phone in minutes.


  Another popular event insurance option is cancellation coverage.  Being in the event industry, you’ve seen it all. Photographers go missing the day of the event, gifts get stolen, and hurricanes can ruin a perfectly planned event. Event cancellation insurance is becoming increasingly popular because it reimburses the event host for lost deposits and non-refundable amounts if they need to cancel or postpone their special event due to unforeseen circumstances.

  Examples of unforeseen circumstances include:

•   Vendor bankruptcy.

•   Accident or illness of the bride or groom or an immediate family member.

•   Extreme weather (hurricane, named tropical storm, etc.).

•   Military deployment.

•   Event cancellation insurance also covers additional expenses your client may incur to avoid cancelling their event, and pays for other losses or damages such as:

•   Lost wedding rings.

•   Damage to special attire.

•   Vendor no-shows.

•   Lost or damaged photography.

•   Lost or damaged videography.

•   Lost or damaged gifts.

  The pricing for an event cancellation policy is a little more involved as it is based on where the wedding is set to occur and the overall wedding budget. Policies start as low as $130.

Exactly how much event cancellation coverage does each event need?  Look a look at the chart below that outlines coverage limits based on the total overall event budget.

Total Event Budget

$7,500 $15,000 $25,000 $50,000 $100,000
Loss Of Deposits $1,000$1,500 $2,000 $3,000 $5,500
Photography & Videography$1,000 $1,500 $2,000 $3,000 $5,500
Special Attire & Jewelry$1,000 $1,500 $2,000 $3,000 $5,500
Wedding Gifts$1,000 $1,500 $2,000 $3,000 $5,500
Extra Expenses$1,875 $3,750 $6,250 $12,500 $25,000
Professional Counseling$500$650$1,000$1,000 $1,250


  With event insurance, some claims would be hard to disprove.  Because of this, many insurance carriers will exclude covering certain circumstances because of the potential increased risk of insurance fraud.

  Examples of circumstances typically not covered:

•   Change of heart –Typically if either the bride or groom get cold feet and change their mind during the wedding planning process or are at the altar and decide not to go through with the wedding, this would not be covered.

•   Known Circumstances – Previously known issues that could affect the event (Example: planned medical procedure delays or cancels the event).

•   Lack of Funds – if the event host is unable to pay for the planned event.

•   Non Appearance – if certain individuals (such as parents, the bride, etc.) don’t show up for the event, the show must still go on as this would not be covered.  Polies do not cover cold feet if either the bride or groom change their mind during the wedding planning process or at the altar and decide not to go through with the wedding.


  It’s easy to start protecting your clients (and yourself).  Request free brochures from Markel Event Insurance and provide your clients with an easy & affordable option to protect their special event.  Event liability policies start as low as $75 and can be purchased online or over the phone in minutes.  Visit to learn more!


2 people sitting down barrels
Photo Courtesy of: Whispering Willow Photography

The artistry of cooperage and winemaking is a genuine friendship.  And like old friends, there is widespread agreement among coopers and winemakers that the success of most wines depends a great deal upon the barrel in which that wine is aged. 

  A master cooper can build a barrel with nothing but hand tools from the log to finished product.  Along with that experience is a wealth of knowledge of the finer points of barrel-making, such as where to source wood as well as how (and why) different woods are used to create different wines. 

  Those who have spent decades in cooperages have fashioned barrels created from woods sourced not only from the United States but also as far away as France, parts of Eastern Europe and even Japan.  While white oak is dominant in the cooperage industry, there are some rare uses of woods that include acacia, chestnut, cherry tree and exclusive species.  Combine the cooper’s experience with that of a winemaker and the result is what wine consumers taste from the glass and feel on the palate.

  With some 30 years of working with wood, few know more about making barrels for wineries than master cooper Russ Karasch, who has taught the industry to his daughter, Heidi Korb. The result is Minnesota’s Black Swan Cooperage, launched in 2009.

  Karasch is responsible for the company’s unique styles of barrels, including a patented HONEY COMB® Barrel, which he invented.  While most of Black Swan’s clients are craft distilleries and breweries, Karasch is a living library of the kind of knowledge upon which coopers and winemakers thrive.  A vital part of that knowledge, Karasch says, is an understanding of different kinds of wood,  their origin and their impact in making multiple types and varieties of wines.

  “Quercus Petraea and Quercus Robur are European Oak, French Oak, Hungarian Oak and German Oak, as well as other countries.  Quercus Alba is the main American Oak.  However, there are many sub-species of Quercus Alba.  It used to be (that) most winemakers preferred French Oak but, as we advance in technology and learn what the wood does and doesn’t do, by toasting and treating the wood in different ways, we are ending up with some phenomenal wines using all the woods.  It used to be if you made red wine, you would use this wood, or white wine you would use (that) wood. We are advancing in knowledge in both wine and wood, so the rules are changing.”

  It is no coincidence that master coopers like Karasch understand the language of winemakers because both professions require a blend of art and science. 

Another case in point is Kentucky-based Canton Cooperage.  Founded in 1933 and acquired in 1998 by Chene & Cie (owners of Taransaud Cooperage of Congac, France), the company benefits from the experience of master coopers who, with a cumulative total of more than 600 years in the business, have a keen understanding of what winemakers need and want.  Canton Cooperage operates from a platform of social responsibility, sponsoring an apprentice program in local schools and partnering with American Forests, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reforestation. 

Enologist Bruno Remy, Sales Manager and Vice President at Canton Cooperage, explains why the wood of choice for most cooperages is oak and why most wineries prefer it.

  “Oak wood is prevailing in the cooperage industry due to its positive physical characteristics to make staves, to give the shape to the barrels and no leaking.  Most importantly, due to its richness in many interesting molecules, the wood will bring structure and flavors to the wines or alcohols.  In addition,    the wood offers a certain porosity to allow oxygen and other gas to pass through the staves, in and out.”

  Remy points out that there are several elements that winemakers take into consideration when choosing barrels and the different woods used to make them. 

  “A barrel should have a positive impact for the use of fermenting or aging a wine.  The choice is coming from the flavors that you will look for, size of the barrel, the percentage of new wood in your final blend, time for aging in the barrels, cellar conditions to store the barrels (temperature, moisture).”

  Black Star Farms, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula near the four-season resort town of Traverse City, understands these multiple considerations.  The award-winning, family-owned winery sources  from cooperages that provide barrels derived from American, French and Eastern European Oaks.  Winemaker and Managing Partner Lee Lutes explains the reason for such careful diversity.

  “We use French Oak exclusively for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, as they simply have an affinity for one another that is time tested and consumer ‘qualified.’  We use two other primary barrel types, American and Eastern European, for other reds, such as our Red House Red, our Merlot or our Cabernet Franc.   These two types of oak tend to have more spice and tannin to them than French, which works well    with these bolder red wines.”

  In the case of barrels made from American and Eastern European Oaks, Lutes adds that the attention to detail used to select these types of barrels is driven by knowing the cooperages that produce them and the source of the actual wood. 

  “We tend to prefer American Oak that either comes from Minnesota or Missouri, as these tend to be tighter grained barrels (from slower growing trees), but with good spice.  The EE (Eastern European) barrels we prefer tend to come from Hungary, as they provide some cocoa and coffee tones that are very complimentary to deeper red wines.  Different coopers source from all of these regions, so there is much to choose from for wood sourcing.  There are specific coopers we prefer, but most in the industry are quite good and make solid barrels.”

  Jeremy Santo, Winemaker for Washington’s Mercer Wine Estates in Yakima Valley, agrees. The fifth-generation winery sources barrels from 14 cooperages.  Santo emphasizes the mutual trust and respect that winemakers and cooperages share.

   “Why do I use the cooperages I do?  The obvious answer is they make amazing barrels.  But the relationship is the most important part.  My favorite cooperages are also my friends.  This allows for a relationship that you can collaborate and ask questions on what’s the best type of barrel for which wine.  The coopers know what they are doing.  They guide me in the direction to make the best wines.”

  Santo echoes a recurring theme shared by Lutes and Remy when it comes to selecting which barrels to use for different varieties and even styles of wines. The type of wood used, size of the wood grain and toast levels are all key factors, he says.

  “I like to use French Oak primarily on higher quality fruit.  French Oak tends to add nice sweetness to the mid-palate of wines without overt oak aromas and flavors.  French Oak allows the fruit of the wine to shine as well as providing sweetness to the mouthfeel.  The American Oak I like also adds a lot of mid-palate sweetness but has more of the roasty, toasty, marshmallow and vanilla characteristics that’s perfect for mid to entry level wines. For higher tier/reserve wines, I lean more towards French Oak (tighter grain wood).  The tighter grain wood allows for longer aging of the wine.  The oak impact is gradual/slower, so the wine can age longer and develop flavors/aromas over a longer period of time.  For reserve quality wines, you have more time to age unlike the $15 to $20 bottle of wine which is made to drink ‘now’.”

  The question of using staves is met with mixed results, despite the lower costs as compared to barrels. According to Remy, staves can be installed in tanks, mimicking the use of barrels, adding micro-oxygenation.  He adds that the actual quality of today’s staves is much higher than, say, 20 years ago, due to technology and the knowledge of how to select better oak wood, how to season the wood and how to apply precise toasting.

  In contrast, Santo opts out of using staves and prefers oak cubes, citing ease of use and faster more, efficient extraction of oak impact of the wine, while keeping aromas and a nice feel on the palate intact.

As for oak barrel alternatives, Santo favors using oak cubes in tanks to achieve more oak impact on lower priced wines.

  Another wood barrel alternative is Karasch’s latest patented invention, called  Squarrels. ®  The play on words describes a customizable, square, steel, stackable barrel, using wood only where it’s needed, saving winemakers time and money.

  Most of these experts agree that over time, a traditional barrel loses its potential to release flavors in wine roughly after four to six years of use.  When barrels become “neutral,” some wineries simply use them to add the breathing factor.  Once retired from winemaking, barrels can be reconditioned for spirits, flooring or even furniture.

Profiling Software Used by the Wine Industry

tablet showing Vinnow
Photo Courtesy of: VinNOW

By: Becky Garrison

While one can still find wine producers who rely on paper ledgers, Excel spreadsheets and other pen and paper methods to manage their business, wine producers are increasingly turning to technology to help them perform these tasks. The proliferation of software explicitly geared to the wine industry has streamlined how many wineries operate. This software can help winemakers better manage a range of functions starting with regulating environmental conditions in their vineyards to performing a variety of eCommerce functions, as well as helping to enhance the consumers’ experience in their tasting rooms.

Microworks Wine Software

  Microworks Wine Software was formed in 1991 to address the lack of technology servicing the wine industry. Currently, this software includes a suite of tools that help wineries manage their direct-to-consumer sales. The software takes complex tasks and simplifies them for efficiency and accuracy. With Microworks Wine Software, all details of sales, customers and inventory are tracked and reported to management so they can execute informed decisions.

  These tools include visitor center tracking, wine club and eCommerce sales, customers and in-ventory, as well as helping with accounting, fulfillment and alcohol compliance. This software suite allows wineries to manage their retail operations by tracking sales data and then issuing re-ports. Tasting room managers can track visitors and staff, and wine club managers can oversee the wine club and its members. Inventory staff can track products across multiple warehouses while managing wine shipments and pickups, and accounting can track and reconcile all sales and inventory activity with complete audit trails. Additionally, marketing managers can track all customer activity, including which wines consumers buy, when they buy their products, how fre-quently they purchase wines and the channels through which they make these purchases.

  When a wine producer purchases the software, Microworks performs an initial onboarding pro-cess. Then apps can be downloaded by the user on devices through the Microworks website, Ap-ple’s App Store or Google Play. Users can take advantage of Microworks certified training ser-vice—a one-on-one instruction for winery employees that ensures they’ll get the most out of what the software has to offer. Online documentation and tutorials are also available.

  The latest release of Microworks Wine Software’s iPad mobile POS offers an offline mode, so users can now access this software without having to connect online. When the software gets used offline, transaction data is stored and then uploaded to the server when the device is back online. Currently, they are working on an automated email system to simplify and tailor custom-er communications to drive more sales.


  Sensaphone software complements the hardware that measures temperatures, humidity and other environmental conditions in the vineyard. Since its founding over thirty years ago, Sensaphone has transitioned from having its software utilize traditional alarm auto dialers hooked to phone lines to a cloud-based platform. 

Using this software allows producers to know the exact temperature in the fields, and to be alarmed if the temperatures sink too low. In the case of ice wine producers, it allows them to pro-tect the grapes during cold temperatures.

  This software allows wine producers to see the temperature values of their vineyards in real-time, set high and low alarms, and datalog those values. These features monitor environmentally sensitive assets and can be programmed to send emails or text messages to users when those as-sets are in danger. Also, it offers real-time visibility and the ability to datalog values for a com-parison over time.  

  Sensaphone products are easy to install and program. It is a one time purchase with upgrades in-cluded with the purchase price. Also, they feature an app that allows producers to view data from any mobile device.


  For the past eight years, VineSpring has offered winery eCommerce, allocations and wine club management software designed for wine producers who sell directly to consumers. Through this software, wineries can easily manage their club and allocation offerings, saving administrators time, and providing wine club members with tools that are easy to access. Online tutorials allow wineries to maintain the software on their own.

  VineSpring can connect to many third party programs, and natively supports integrations with MailChimp, ShipCompliant and Square POS. Also, they have partners like WineGlass Marketing that have built powerful integrations, including automatic sync with Quickbooks desktop. Mov-ing forward, they look to expand the options for wine clubs, especially surrounding automatic recurring billing.


  Created in 1999, VinNOW software was specifically designed for wineries to manage customer data and purchase histories, tasting room sales, wine clubs, multiple location inventory tracking and wine production. Wineries can use this software on a single stand-alone computer, a tablet, or on a network multi-point of sale operation. Also, as this software does not require a good in-ternet connection, it works well for those wineries located in regions that do not have reliable internet access.

  The software includes a customer management system, point of sale, wine club automation, eCommerce, inventory management, reporting and order processing with QuickBooks, compli-ance, email and shipping integrations and EMV credit card processing. Also, bulk wine tracking and custom crush billing module are available. When necessary, features are added that respond to industry changes, such as the new California District Tax.

  For those wineries offering wine clubs, the software’s one-step wine club processing includes shipping labels for UPS and FedEx. Also, GSO shipments can be tracked through VinNOW. In addition, the software has options for easy email and postcard marketing campaigns. It also inte-grates with QuickBooks desktop or online versions, web shopping providers, and ShipCompli-ant.

  VinNOW can be self-installed and maintained and includes a comprehensive help database. New customers are encouraged to go through the free training program, so they understand the full capabilities of the software. Customer service is available seven days a week. is a wine tasting app launched in 2017 that’s available for iOS and Android, as well as the web browser.

  Users snap photos of the wine they are drinking and then use the app’s four sliders to give their personal opinion on the aroma, taste, finish and overall impression of the wine. The app then auto-generates a wine expert score (50 to 100 points) based on these four sliders. Optionally, the user can use “TouchTags” to describe the unique elements they detect in the wine. As they continue using the app, they end up with a visual history of the wines they drink, similar to a “Pinterest for wine.”

  The second primary feature of this app is a multi-person, real-time experience called Group Tasting. Anyone hosting a tasting event, whether a winery, event planner or party host, can create a tasting list ahead of time. At the event, attendees can collaboratively taste the wines together through the app. They can see each other’s wine scores and comments popping up on the screen in real-time. Also, there’s an optional Blind Tasting mode for the Group Tasting feature.

  According to Tony Jacobson, Founder of, wineries who use the Group Tasting feature increase their wine sales. He ascribes this to the fact that when people taste wines with, it causes a fuller engagement with each wine they sample. “When they are pondering the aroma, taste and finish of a wine, they get a much better sense of how much they like or don’t like it. This creates a deeper connection with the wine they’re drinking.” is willing to schedule one-on-one consultations with wineries and event planners to help guide them through the process of creating Group Tasting events.

  In the future, the company plans to launch tasting groups similar to Facebook groups, where us-ers can join and automatically be notified whenever someone adds new wine scores. These groups can be public or private. Also, they plan on adding the ability for users to follow individ-ual people on Along those lines, users can automatically receive notifications whenever people they follow taste a new wine. is also looking to enable wineries to have conversation threads or email conversations with the people who participate in their tast-ing events.

  As technology continues to evolve, expect to see these software companies continue evolving to meet the needs of 21st-century wine producers.

It’s Easy Being Green: New Ideas for Your Operations

facade of a winery
Photo Courtesy of: Morton Buildings

By: Tracey L. Kelley

Sustainability is no longer a buzzword. Perhaps in the winemaking industry, it never really was. Growers frequently enact innovative solutions focused on water conservation, renewable energy and waste-free practices. For example, major producers such as Fetzer Vineyards and Shafer Vineyards adapted green solutions as far back as 1999, and organic growers go back even further.

  The initial costs of sustainable integration—easier for new projects rather than through retrofitting, although some effective solutions are viable for existing estates—provide significant return-on-investment over the life of the buildings and grounds. Now more than ever, it’s easier for progressive vineyards and wineries to take advantage of the latest eco-friendly technology and create properties that reflect their integration with the land, and honor the origin of their products.

  “They know sustainable-building strategies are good for the climate, good for their site and can make a huge financial impact when considered over the life of a building or business,” said Jon Gentry, owner and partner of goCstudio architecture + design in Seattle, Washington. “It’s our intent that projects use limited natural resources responsibly, and each design enriches its site and cultural landscape.” won an American Institute of Architects’ Emerging Firm Award in 2018.

Learning About Potential Solutions

Gentry told The Grapevine Magazine that clients benefit most by consulting with sustainability experts when they’re first curious about this direction, which helps determine site needs, budget and program. “Having solutions thoughtfully considered from the beginning leads to designs that function and look better in the end. These solutions might include natural daylight and ventilation, solar panel arrays, green roofs, locally-produced materials, geothermal heat pumps and striving to use materials that will be low maintenance and stand the test of time,” Gentry said.

  As one example, goCstudio designed several site-specific sustainable strategies for COR Cellars in Lyle, Washington. “The site has strong winds that funnel up through the Columbia River Gorge. It was important to deal with this element, so we created a courtyard building that provided a protected entry and event space,” Gentry said. “We also bermed the building into the natural sloping hillside using the earth’s mass to help insulate the structure. Finally, we created a flat, low-profile roof that allowed the owners to easily install a solar panel array or a built-up green roof.”

  During information gathering, all the terms and concepts for sustainability options might be a surprise. For instance, LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is the blueprint to “create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings,” according to the U.S. Green Building Council, which oversees the various levels of LEED certification and its rating system. One large step beyond that is the International Living Future Institute, or ILFI. This nonprofit implements even higher green building standards, which include living building certification, petal certification and net zero energy building certification.

  There are varying degrees of net zero status. Dwight Schumm is a senior mechanical engineer and managing principal at Design Engineers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His firm designs building systems—heating, cooling, plumbing, power and lighting—and its net zero headquarters is LEED and ILFI rated. The New Buildings Institute, a nonprofit that promotes better energy performance in commercial buildings, has Design Engineers on its 2019 list of only 580 “getting to zero” certified, verified and emerging projects in the entire United States and Canada. The firm designed another net zero building on that list: Indian Creek Nature Center, also in Iowa, and winner of the 2019 High Performing Buildings Technology award.

  “Net zero describes a number of different things,” Schumm said. “A net zero energy building means it produces as much energy as it uses—that would be total amount of all types of energy. So, for example, if you have natural gas consumption, you’d need to produce enough energy to offset that. Net zero electricity is separate from net zero energy, but most rated buildings with this intent are electric, so it’s usually the same thing,” he said.

Net Zero Water Leads Conservation Efforts

  Schumm also noted that properties can strive for net zero water management. A primary concern for vineyards, this means all water used onsite comes from a well, and all rainwater that falls on a property stays there—there’s not a storm runoff removal system. “With our office building, even though much of the area is covered with pervious material so water can infiltrate, we also designed an infiltration basin—sometimes called a bioswale,” he said. “Instead of holding and then moving water away—which often happens around many non-pervious parking lots—this basin is designed to ease water into the ground.”

  Allen Rossignol is president and CEO of Edge Architecture in Rochester, New York. As a certified LEED professional, Rossignol guides his firm to apply green and sustainable practices to winery and craft beverage projects throughout the Northeast, such as Red Tail Ridge Winery in Penn Yan—New York’s first LEED Gold Certified winery—and the FLCC Viticulture and Wine Center. Rossignol provided some additional specifics for water conservation.

  “The amount of water used for cleaning is a large concern for all wineries. We often suggest a metered water system so owners can be aware of their consumption and make efforts to reduce the amount used,” he said. “Further, as wastewater from the winemaking process is large in quantity and has high levels of BOD (biochemical oxygen demand), there are two solutions: 1) hold and treat or 2) septic systems. With the first solution, we successfully reuse the water for irrigation of the vineyards. The second allows natural replenishment of aquifers.”

  Architects and engineers aren’t the only sustainability professionals thinking about water management. Matt Milby is the designBUILD project development manager for Morton Buildings, based in Morton, Illinois. The company pioneered green construction practices with its first building in 1949, and implemented early advances in Energy Star and LEED certification in its industry. “Renewable energy initiatives such as water reduction or advanced heating and cooling systems that also provide cost-savings are important to wineries,” he said. “Also, low-flow water fixtures are easy to find and significantly reduce water usage without sacrificing service.”

Your Partnership With Architects, Builders and Engineers

  If you’re passionate about sustainability, sourcing the right design and building partners are essential to your success. “We encourage owners to first connect with an architect whose work they’re drawn to,” Gentry said. “Architects generally have strong relationships with talented builders that do great work. Make sure it stands up to how they’re presenting their services and that sustainable strategies are built into their processes from the beginning.”

  “An experienced winery architect can help streamline your facility, resulting in better operational flows and a more efficient building,” Rossignol added. For Red Tail Ridge, Rossignol and his team “included the use of a geothermal heating and cooling system that serves the building and the winemaking process equipment, which is unique to the wine industry,” he said. “Natural ventilation and wastewater harvesting are additional features that contribute to the green design.” Combined with high-efficiency windows and skylights to maximize daylighting and a white-reflecting roof to reduce temperature, Rossignol said the winery’s energy efficiency is 40% greater than baseline equivalent buildings.

  “Consumers are looking for more out of their wine experiences. A knowledgeable winery architect can help you create the destination they’re seeking, and a well-designed winery or tasting room is the key to increasing traffic and interest in your winery,” Rossignol said.

  “The absolute, number one thing any user can do to be sustainable is minimize how much energy they use,” Schumm told The Grapevine Magazine. “To incorporate these principles and goals, the earlier you start, the better, so hire engineers and other design professionals with the appropriate sustainability expertise. This is really critical because, in the beginning, you have a blank slate. But too far along in the process, more constraints exist, which limit your flexibility,” he said. However, if you want renewable solutions for an existing facility, Schumm advised getting a feasibility study and an energy audit, and making adaptations where you can.

  Design Engineer’s website has articles featuring real-world numbers demonstrating where to find net zero savings. Not surprisingly, the primary category contributing to energy efficiency is conservation. “Methods such as daylighting, energy recovery for ventilation, good passive solar design, southern exposure with appropriate shading and so on. Then, another quarter of the savings comes from geothermal heat pumps,” he said.

  Rossignol agreed. “Heat recovery systems such as ventilation systems re-circulate warm air, so energy used to heat buildings isn’t wasted. And geothermal has drastically proven to reduce heating energy and, for wineries, in particular, can be integrated with the cooling systems for fermentation,” he said.

  The structure that houses these systems shouldn’t be an afterthought. For example, Morton’s steel roofing and siding has high levels of recycled content and is completely recyclable at the end of its lifespan. “By combining sustainable building practices and our Energy Performer insulation system, many of our buildings are able to achieve national recognition for their efficiency,” Milby said. 

  Morton’s post-frame construction allows for continuous insulation between structural elements. “So plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems are placed between the insulation and in the finished wall or ceiling. This configuration results in no penetration of the insulation and an increase in energy efficiency and overall insulation performance,” Milby said. He added that cool roofing or high-reflective roofing products reduce the “heat island” effect on a building, and lowers energy use and costs. Foundations with concrete lower pier columns eliminate wood contacting the ground and wood treatment and require less excavation and less concrete. Morton even utilizes sustainable sourcing.

  “Long before the U.S. Green Building Council created LEED, Morton Buildings was already applying a number of sustainable building practices. Since 1949, we’ve used timber frames manufactured from renewable wood sources. To conserve energy and natural resources, the materials used in most Morton buildings are manufactured within 500 miles of each building site,” Milby said.  

What’s On the Horizon

  Now that sustainability solutions are more attainable, there are numerous trends to consider for your operation.

  “I think the rise in mass timber structures is very exciting,” Gentry of goCstudio architecture + design said. “We’ve used cross-laminated timber components on a smaller scale—like our renovation of the Substantial space in Seattle. Mass timber structural components require less than one-fourth the carbon emissions to produce compared to steel or concrete components,” he said. “There’s an elemental beauty to cross-laminated timber panels and glue-laminated structural beams that’s compatible with a lot of the winery spaces we love to imagine.”

  Milby of Morton Buildings is thrilled to see the trend of reusing old building materials in new buildings. “It connects the new and the old with really interesting and popular interior designs. At the same time, it’s helping the environment: fewer items put into landfills and less harvesting of materials, such as woods and minerals, along with the impact of not manufacturing new building products,” he said.

  Schumm of Design Engineers is hopeful about energy storage and electricity. “I think thermal and electricity storage is becoming more important and cost-effective. Soon, you’ll have electricity storage onsite to dispatch when it’s most advantageous for you. This trend will grow significantly,” he said. “Additionally, electrify everything. If you’re able to transition from any kind of combustible—natural gas, diesel, anything—to electric, you’re reducing C02 emissions as well as relying on 100% renewable energy.”

“The consumer appetite for environmental design and interest in learning about the process of beverage making has pushed wineries to evolve into more of a destination than ever before, and it’s been really great to see how this industry embraces this new role,” said Rossignol of Edge Architecture.

Proper Vineyard Equipment Enables Successful Vineyard Management

vineyard equipment in action

By: Gerald Dlubala

Whether we’re considering leaf pullers, harvesters, sprayers or some other piece of machinery, good vineyard management starts with the right equipment. Properly matched vineyard equipment helps necessary tasks get completed on time, and are crucial to running and maintaining the efficient operation and growing conditions that lead to a successful harvest. Additionally, having the proper vineyard equipment available saves time and money by reducing the number of working hours while contributing to larger, more bountiful harvests and heartier crops.

  However, the proper vineyard equipment, (including the amount you’re willing to spend on them), can be subjective, so it’s always recommended that you research and get the equipment that’s best suited for your specific situation.

Labor And Resource Saving Spray Systems

  “The right equipment for your vineyard always comes down to your needs,” says Willie Hartman, President and owner of Oregon-based On Target Spray Systems, a manufacturer of next-generation electrostatic sprayers. “Your most used, and subsequently, most needed, vineyard equipment indicates how important the task is to you and your vineyard. So, in our case, we ask how important spraying is compared with the other tasks in your vineyard management process.”

  The answer depends on the amount of time and money spent on spraying throughout the production cycle. A significant issue over the past couple of years, especially on the East Coast, has been the need for more disease and pest control, and vineyards have increased their spraying to combat these issues. Vineyard managers have been tasked with finding the most efficient way to achieve consistently better coverage with the least cost. On Target electrostatic sprayers can provide just that, leading to better results than standard sprayers.

  “Now, more than ever, it’s extremely important that you use a sprayer that provides complete overall coverage,” said Hartman. “It’s easier to control mildew early on when you’re able to apply spray coverage both over and under leaves while also wrapping around the vines themselves. When you spray with electrostatic sprayers, you’re using less water while saving time and money.

“A standard sprayer will typically use one hundred gallons per acre sprayed, whereas our electrostatic sprayers will only use twenty gallons over that same area. We can spray ten acres versus a standard sprayer’s two acres using the same two-hundred-gallon tank. That’s an opportunity to immediately reduce your tank fills by 80%. Add in the time lost because of return trips to refill the tanks, and you can see that valuable time can be recovered using electrostatic sprayers. Less overall material to spread means less time spent on the tractor, saving money on fuel and man-hours. By using less water, we concentrate our spray, resulting in less runoff, minimal drift, and improved chemistry coverage. This increased performance is especially important in having the ability to move away from systemic treatments and stay with contact treatments such as those needed in the organic farming industry.”

  Along with the extended use available with electrostatic sprayers, Hartman tells The Grapevine Magazine that it’s vital to perform an exact application when spraying, so from their largest to smallest sprayers, they all leave the shop with rate controllers.

  “The most important maintenance issue for sprayers is rinsing after use,” said Hartman. To make this as easy and economical as possible, his sprayers all have onboard rinsing tanks that are accessible with the flip of a switch. Additionally, all of the components needed for droplet charging in electrostatic spraying are separately enclosed, including liquid, air and the twelve-volt power source.

  “And now, we’re making our sprayers smaller, lighter and even more economical,” says Hartman. “This is great news for smaller growers because our three-point trailered electrostatic sprayers can be used with smaller tractors. A very popular model is our one-hundred-gallon trailer that only requires 20 horsepower to operate. And when you use smaller, less expensive tractors combined with smaller sprayer units, you get the additional benefit of less ground compaction.”

Multi-Use Equipment For Efficiency And Cost Savings

  Bill Reiss, owner of BDI Machinery Sales Inc., has seen it all. So he knows that there’s a lot that goes into the management of a vineyard, including the inherent belief that when it’s all said and done, it’s always the vineyard manager’s personal decision on how best to run their vineyard. Reiss doesn’t want to sell anything that won’t help the vineyard manager improve the land.

  “It’s not just about the right equipment, it’s about the equipment that’s available to you,” says Reiss. “The equipment that you want may not be economically feasible if you are a small vineyard. You won’t have the spending money to invest in a lot of specialty equipment, so it’s imperative as a supplier to always be looking for time and labor-saving ways to get things done. Some vineyard equipment may be good in one region but not useful at all in another growing region. Most decisions are made based on the timing of the growing and harvesting process. There may be tasks that you’re willing to do by hand, but is that going to put you behind on other critical tasks? Can you get it done on time? Are there better ways to get that task done and stay on the critical timeline of your vineyard management?”

  Reiss and BDI Machinery stay focused on tools that have multiple, useful functions for vineyard owners. Their leaf pullers come as attachments, hooked onto a frame that can be attached to a tractor.

  “The latest trend in leaf pullers has been to use the air impulse pruners,” says Reiss. “A controlled blast of air shatters the leaves away from the plant. These have been around since the nineties, but better technological developments have made them trendy now, especially on the East Coast. Earlier models included a simple fan that used velocity to suck leaves into an impeller blade to be chopped up, and the double drum leaf pullers, still being sold and in use today.”

  With additional attachments available that can be attached to the same frame, a single tractor can now be used for hedge clearing, pruning and suckling removal. Once these implements are hooked up to a tractor with hydraulic capacity, they’re controlled with a joystick for safety and comfort.

  “Now you’re helping your clients have access to more machinery at less cost,” says Reiss.  “They’re only having to buy the attachments that they need for their specific vineyard process. This is good for immediate tasks, but also future planning. Additional attachments can be purchased later on an as-needed basis, knowing that they already own the base frame and tractor needed to use them.” 

  Reiss tells The Grapevine Magazine that rather than concentrating on one single piece of equipment, BDI is always on the cutting edge of new technology regarding all vineyard machinery. They are continually looking for new ways to be economically and environmentally friendly while creating the ideal tool for grape growers and wineries. 

Whether Large Or Small Operation, Grape Harvesters Save Money And Time

  Jesse Willms, Operations Manager, and Duarte Oliveira, Sales and Customer Relations for Lakeview Vineyard Equipment Inc., know the importance of keeping costs down in the vineyard. Anchored in this knowledge is the belief that every vineyard, no matter the size, should look to mechanical harvesting as a way to reduce labor costs and increase the quality of their harvest.

  “Mechanical grape harvesters perform great for all grape varietals,” says Willms. “Some adjustments need to be made depending on the grape that is going to be harvested because each variety does pick differently and at different stages of ripeness. With the correct setup, modern harvesting machines can provide 100% picking rates and zero loss.

  “With the increased potential of finding quality used harvesters, as well as the many choices when buying new, there are reasonable options for all sizes of wineries and growers to take advantage of mechanical harvesting machines,” says Oliveira.

  However, before choosing a grape harvester, consideration has to be given to a vineyard’s unique set up and layout. There are different machines to handle the different growing styles, including Geneva Double Curtain, Smart-Dyson or Vertical Shoot Positioned. The terrain and landscape slope of a vineyard will dictate the need for a two-wheel or four-wheel-drive system. The correct choice of harvester for a vineyard will also be determined by the width of the rows, as there are different sized harvesters made for both wide and narrow spacing needs.

  “Once the size of the grape harvester is determined, look for a harvester with on-board destemming and sorting,” says Willms. “On-board sorting equipment has evolved recently and continues to be a focal point of the mechanical harvesting function. With on-board sorting, you lower the amount of interaction between material other than grapes (MOG) and recently harvested fruit. Just as importantly, the sticks, leaves and stems are left in the vineyard to be worked back into the soil. Providing MOG free grapes with low maceration is the goal, even in challenging post-frost or rotten fruit conditions. Ultimately, with the ability to automatically remove the MOG, you increase the ability to deliver your harvest in a more efficient and timely manner.”

  “Adding to their affordability and usefulness factor, harvesters can often be used as over-the-row tractors as well, making them functional for year-round use,” says Oliveira. “The picking head can be removed from the tractor base of the machine and be replaced by different attachments like a pre-pruner, leaf remover or multi-use sprayer.”

  Oliveira tells The Grapevine Magazine that new developments have shown up in automatic steering and on-board yield mapping as well. The automatic steering is guided by a vineyard’s physical layout and landscape properties, while on-board yield mapping provides the grower with comparative, year-to-year data identifying the parts of the vineyard that are cropping heavier than others. Vineyard managers then use this information to make well-informed decisions about pruning, thinning and fertilizing for the following growing season.  

Owning and running a harvester does require a bit of maintenance simply because of the number of moving parts involved, and since harvesting is a time-sensitive task, you don’t want to run the risk of breakdowns. Seasonal maintenance is always recommended, including belt and chain tightening, greasing all bearings and bushings, and annual maintenance of the on-board engine.