Wineries Enhance Profits and Customers’ Palettes with Mulled Wine

Olde Tradition Spice Helps Wineries Create New Flavors and New Sales

Studies have shown that the spices used in mulling may have significant health benefits for
many individuals.

Wine pairing usually means matching a wine to a particular food to enhance the enjoyment of both. Wineries are now discovering another kind of pairing. With the addition of traditional mulling spices sold in packages or given away free as samples hung on the wine bottle’s neck, inventive tasting rooms are introducing clients to mulled wine, increasing sales and engendering customer loyalty. 

Mulled wine is an old practice. Spices were found in a recently unearthed Egyptian wine jar dating from 5100 B.C. and even the Bible mentions ‘spiced wine.” And perhaps confirming what ancient people knew, recent scientific studies have shown that the spices used in mulling, which include cinnamon and cloves, may have significant health benefits for many individuals.

Michigan’s longest operating winery, 101-year-old, St. Julian Winery is continuing the mulled wine practice by adding Olde Tradition Spice mulling spices to their already spiced Head Games grape and apple wines, their red wines, and their hard ciders for tasting room visitors to try. 

Szakaly says St. Julian has about 100 different beverage products and the mulling spices work with most of the red wines, whether sweet or dry. Because the winery also operates as a distillery, the product goes well with bourbon, rum, vodka, and, in particular, a cherry brandy they offer.

“You can serve mulled wine chilled in summer and warm in winter,” says Joel Szakaly, St. Julian’s Vice President – DTC. “Employees in our six locations take it upon themselves to come up a creative new concoction of the day where they highlight a different mulled wine.”

“We have a loyal wine club and they come in regularly. During the fall or winter months, they are asking what new mulled wine we have in the crock pot,” he adds.

St. Julian’s has also sold boxes as part of a kit which included a sweet red wine and a six-pack of hard cider. The kit was sold across the county as well in the tasting rooms.

Olde Tradition Spice gives wineries the option of branding the mulling spices under their own names, something Szakaly is exploring for next year. In the meantime, St. Julian has taken advantage of using neck hangers of a single-serve bag of mulled spices from Olde Tradition Spice on bottles of wine to introduce the product to the customers.

“Olde Tradition Spice sends us recipe cards. The customers love getting those and seeing the endless possibilities of cocktails they can make using those spices. They buy a bunch of boxes [of the mulling spices] from us and use them all winter long.” 

Unlike other alternatives on the market today, Olde Tradition Spice uses only high-quality spices, with no sugar or preservatives added. The spices are carefully formulated to deliver flavorful consistent results and are available as single serve individually wrapped tea bags as well as industrial sized packages.

“A lot of people aren’t too sure what it is, or what it tastes like, but once they try it, Szakaly says, “they love it, and they keep coming back for more. All we hear about is how great mulling spices are and how much it enhances a wine.”

For more information or to order mulled spices, visit www.buymullingspices.com or call 1-800-977-1117.

Cash Still Operation

By: Tom Payette, Winemaking Consultant

Testing Volatile Acidity

Volatile acidity, vinegar production, is an important measurement to obtain when making wine.  Wine is a perishable product, from a perishable fruit (notably grapes) for our purpose.  Getting early measurements of volatile acidity on the fruit is essential to help measure the “chemical condition” of the fruit and how one may care to handle that fruit moving forward in the winemaking process.  It is also useful when negotiating with the fruit producer if the grower does not recognize substandard quality.  Measuring the volatile acidity regularly as a systematic process during wine aging is important.  The test will confirm the wines are aging well and developing properly.

  The cash still is a great tool to measure volatile acidity chemically.  There are other ways to measure volatile acidity and many are potentially just as accurate; however, this article will focus be on the cash still and how to operate the unit.

Background

  Volatile acidity is a chemical data reading from a raw material fruit or juice to measure the degradation of that fruit toward the unwanted production of vinegar.  The cash still will drive off volatile acidity from a wine or juice sample using heat and then recondensing the Volatile Acidity (an acid) into a collection flask.  This will be titrated with weak solution of Sodium Hydroxide (a base).  This is a simple explanation of what is actually happening.

Tools and Chemicals

•    Cash still unit or equivalent with stand.

•    Distilled water (pre-boiled and cooled for safe use).

•    Small mouth 250 milliliter Erlenmeyer flask.

•    0.1 normal sodium hydroxide, or approximate, standardized for accuracy.

•    25 milliliter Class A volumetric burette with definitive sub markings.

•    Source of cold water and a sink for the exiting condenser chilling water.

•    110 volt outlet.

•    Phenolphthalein and white backdrop to see the color change in the flask.

•    10 milliliter pipette – class A Volumetric.

Mixing and Standardizing Chemicals

  Always wear safety equipment when operating this unit.  Eye protection is very important.

1.   Pre-boiled distilled water – The night before using the cash still one should boil the distilled water to drive off the Carbon Dioxide and allow it to cool.

2.   Purchase or mix a 0.10 Normal Sodium Hydroxide solution and standardize the solution each time you use this test.

Procedure

1.  Make sure the apparatus is assembled properly, there are no leaks at the joints, and connections are secure when the unit is in operation.

2.  Always make certain water is in the heating chamber, to the proper level, before engaging the heating element.

3.  Turn on the water source to the condenser.

4.  Rinse the complete units’s interior with distilled water and evacuate any residuals from the interior boiling chamber leaving it empty and ready for a wine or juice sample.

5.  Make sure the chemicals and reagents are mixed properly, strengths known and ready for use.

6.  Collect a representative sample of wine or juice from a vessel in the cellar.

7.  Check the sample for exogenous amounts of carbon dioxide.  If the wine is not still – pull a slight vacuum on the sample or lightly heat, driving off the carbon dioxide and then cool to laboratory temp (68 degrees F.)  Do use caution not to reduce the amount of volatile acidity with these actions as a false reading will occur.

8.  Once the sample is ready, make sure the receiving stopcock on the cash still is positioned so the sample will go into the interior-boiling chamber.

9.  Pipette with a class A volumetric pipette, or equivalent, 10 milliliters of the wine/juice sample and deliver it into the interior boiling chamber.  Rinse any portion of wine/juice into the bowling chamber from the funnel with pre-boiled and cooled distilled water.  Do not rinse out the volumetric pipette as they are made “to deliver”.

10.      Close the stopcock to trap all inside the unit.

11.      Place a collection flask under the condenser where distillate will be discharged from the unit during operation.  Use a small-mouthed Erlenmeyer flask and make sure the connection is closed but loose.  This is to limit the possibility that some of the collected sample would revolatilize and evaporate out of the collection flask.  Example:  Make sure the distillate is not falling into the collection flask and rather the distillate spout protrudes into the flask.

12.      Turn the power to the unit on and boiling will soon begin.

13.      Double check that cold water is flowing through the condenser

14.      Watch the unit and the collection process.

15.      When approximately 100 mils of distillate has been collected in the receiving flask – turn the power to the unit off.

16.      Remove the collection flask with the distillate collected as soon as possible.

17.      Add three drops of phenolphthalein to the distillate and swirl.

18.      Record the starting volume of sodium hydroxide in the burette

19.      Immediately start titrating the sample with the 0.1 normal sodium hydroxide.  Titrate until a very light pink is achieved that will last for 45 seconds or more.  This part takes practice and lab experience.

20.      Record the ending volume of sodium hydroxide in the burette to achieve the total amount used for the titration.  This will be used later in the calculation.

21.      Open the stopcock on the Cash Still to evacuate the remains of the sample tested from the interior boiling chamber.  (Some units do not have this capacity – please disregard this step and perform the same function in another fashion if the unit in your lab is not equipped with this function.)

22.      Rinse the inner chamber twice with copious amounts of distilled water (two twenty milliliter rinses) and evacuate both rinses residues.

23.      Turn the upper stopcock to readjust the distilled water in the exterior bowl as much water will have been lost during the last test. [Keep in mind we tested a 10 milliliter sample and collected 100 milliliters]

24.      Make sure to close the stopcock to stop the evacuation of the inner bowl and start the process for another test.  Repeat starting with step 8 above.

25.      Turning our attention back to the previous test results and data gathered above.

Calculations

  The formula used to calculate the results from the process is as follows:

Volatile Acidity:

 (VA g/l) =  (Mils of NaOH) * (Normality of NaOH) * (0.06) (1000

10 milliliters of wine / juice

  The results are expressed in grams per liter.

  Below are potential sources of error not stated above:

  Be sure to drive off any carbon dioxide in the wine sample. This may actually change the volume of your sample as well and add condensed carbonic acid to your collection flask giving false readings on the high side.

  Use boiled distilled water in the outer boiling chamber to avoid dissolved carbon dioxide in the water giving false results to the test. (carbonic acid would take more sodium hydroxide to negate the carbonic acid therefore giving a potentially false high to the volatile acidity measurement.)

  Sorbic acid (potassium sorbate) in a wine may give erroneous measurements of the volatile acidity and may need a correction.  [1 gram of sorbic acid is equal to 0.54 grams of acidic acid.]

  Run a blank on some boiled distilled water and subtract that reading from your sample.  Or run a blank on a 12.5 percent alcohol / boiled distilled water mix.  Usually this blank will take 0.2 mils of 0.1 normal NaOH and this number can be subtracted from all future burette readings.

  Calibrate the strength of your sodium hydroxide.  This is the most important chemical known in this equation.  For further accuracy use a 10 milliliter burette in place of the 25 milliliter burette recommended above.

  This test is not correcting for sulfur dioxide in the wine.  In most cases, with today’s lower sulfur dioxide winemaking, this is not necessary to correct.

  To make the operation of the unit easier – one may adapt a way to fill the exterior bowling chamber, with pre-boiled distilled water, by having a source above the unit and a pinch clamp to fill the bowl when needed.

Cleaning the Unit

Over time, one will notice a brown deposit dirt developing on the inner chamber of the unit.  This is unsightly and may cause inefficiency to the unit.  These steps below can help remove these deposits and keeps the unit sparkling clean for better use and for tourist viewing into the laboratory.

Please wear proper safety goggles and equipment while performing this operation, too!

1.  Place 20 milliliters of 2.0 normal NaOH into the interior boiling flask and add 2 drops of dish detergent.  Rinse residues into inner chamber.

2.  Plug in the unit to boil and allow to boil.

3.  Place a collection flask at the outlet to collect the cleaning distillate.  Do not breathe the gas and use in a well-ventilated lab.

4.  One should notice a sloughing/bubbling of the dirt off the inner chamber.

5.  After the dirt is removed, open the stopcock to evacuate the internal boiling chamber.

6.  Rinse with copious amounts of distilled water to remove all soap and sodium hydroxide by repeated rinsing.

7.  When running the first VA after cleaning note that the results may be “off” and be ready to run the sample a second time if the data seems to be in error from previous lab results.

  One may also notice a mineral build up on the exterior of the condensing coils from the water used for cooling.  These are not cleaned by the action above.  One may clean these by removing that section (the condenser) of the apparatus and soaking in a strong base over a weekend or several days.  Inspect the unit after soaking and rinse both the inner portion and exterior portions with copious amounts of water or potentially a very light citric acid and water mix.  Once again be prepared to disregard any data from the next analysis run since it may be skewed from cleaning chemical residuals.

What Records Do You Need at the Time of a Claim?

By: Trevor Troyer, Vice President Agricultural Risk Management, LLC

So, you have opened up a claim in your vineyard due to freeze/frost damage. What’s next? When do you get paid? How much do you get? When is the adjuster going to come out? How does the claims process work? What do you need to provide to the adjuster that shows your loss?

  I wrote a month ago about when you should open up a claim. To summarize, you should open up a claim any time that you might have a loss. You should not wait to see if you have a loss but open the claim up right away. The loss has to be caused by an insurable trigger.

  The Causes of Loss per Grape crop provisions are:

1)   Adverse weather conditions;

2)   Fire, unless weeds and other forms of undergrowth have not been controlled or pruning debris has not been removed from the vineyard;

3)   Insects, except as excluded in 10(b)(1), but not damage due to insufficient or improper application of pest control measures;

4)   Plant disease, but not damage due to insufficient or improper application of disease control measures;

5)   Wildlife;

6)   Earthquake;

7)   Volcanic eruption; or

8)   Failure of irrigation water supply, if caused by an insured peril that occurs during the insurance period.

  Adverse weather conditions could be anything that could cause damage to your grapes. For example; drought, frost, freeze, excess moisture etc. Wildlife could be bird damage, deer etc. Fire would also include smoke taint as that is a result of a fire. Crop insurance does not cover, inability to sell your grapes because of a buyer’s refusal or contract breakage. It also doesn’t cover losses from boycotts or pandemics. Overspray or chemical damage from a neighboring farm is not covered either.

  An average of your historic production is being covered per acre per variety. You can cover 50% to 85% of your production average. Obviously, the premium for 50% is cheaper than the premium for 85%. If you chose 75% coverage then you have a 25% production deductible. If you have a 4 ton per acre average then you would be covered for 3 tons per acre. Your deductible would be 1 ton an acre. You would have to have a loss over 1 ton per acre to have a payable claim.

  At the time you sign up for crop insurance you report your past production per variety and vineyard location. We do not need any weigh tickets, pick records, or sales receipts from wineries at this time to verify your production. You will be asked to show this year crop year’s production records during a claim. The adjuster may want to verify past production records as well. It is important that when we set up your production database with your history that you have records to prove the data.

  Per the Common Crop Insurance Policy – Basic Provisions; Production record – A written record that documents your actual production reported on the production report. The record must be an acceptable verifiable record or an acceptable farm management record as authorized by FCIC procedures. FCIC is the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation.

  Here are some of the items that may be needed for a claim. A. Supporting Records Settlement sheets, sales receipts, machine harvest records, certified scale records, pick records and final or year-end statements from a winery, cannery or processor must indicate net paid tons of Grapes delivered by variety. Converting gallons of wine to tons of grapes does not qualify as acceptable records. – Crop Insurance Handbook (CIH) 2023. These records would also be needed to support your historical average.

  It is important to keep these items for the future as well. It is not enough that you have your tonnage written down. You need weigh tickets, receipts etc. These documents need to be verifiable, not in a spreadsheet on your desktop computer.

  It can get tricky if you are “vertically integrated” and grow grapes and make wine yourself. You might not have third party weigh tickets or sales receipts. Some wineries sell some of their grapes and make wine with the rest. Some of the records for the adjuster could be sales receipts and the rest would need to be certified scale weight records.

  The scale has to be certified though.

B. Certified Scale Weight Records  Certified scale weight records alone are considered to be acceptable production records, unless the CP requires a pre-harvest appraisal and/or records of sold production. Certified scale weight records must be legible and include all of the following to be acceptable.

1)   The insured’s name.

2)   The name of the crop.

3)   The date of harvest or the date weighed.

4)   The unit number or the location of the

      production.

5)   The practice, type, and crop year.

6)   The quantity/weighed production. For wineries that process their own grapes, the weight can be recorded on the form used for reporting to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. – Crop Insurance Handbook (CIH) 2023.

  There is a lot of information on what is an “acceptable verifiable record”, much more than I can put in one article. For the full information on what is acceptable you can look at the Crop Insurance Handbook, the Loss Adjustment Manual and the Grape Loss Adjustment Standards Handbook. You can find all of these at the USDA Risk Management Agency’s website at www.rma.usda.gov

  To run through the questions at the beginning. You have called your agent and opened up a claim. The adjuster will contact you in few days. They may want to see the damage right away or wait to see how much you harvested. I always recommend to vineyard owners to take pictures of the vineyard if the damage is visible. Once you harvest and production is verified by the adjuster, they will send the information in to be reviewed. Once approved you will be paid the difference of your guarantee (average of your historical production multiplied by your coverage level.)

  I cannot stress enough the importance of keeping good records.

Rules of the Road for Social Media Advertising, Influencers and Wine Brand Owners

By: Louis J. Terminello, Esq. and Brad Berkman, Esq.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the world of beverage alcohol. As the reader knows, e-commerce sales of all alcoholic beverages, and especially wine, have grown exponentially. The reliance by the consumer on their computer is resulting in a war of attrition against the three-tier system, the legal doctrine of Tied-House and trade practice concerns.

  One significant and deeply affected business sphere is how marketers are using technology to create brand awareness. Clearly, the beverage alcohol advertising landscape is in a state of flux and change. The internet and social media, in particular, have had a profound impact on virtually all consumer goods but it seems that the boundaries of acceptable alcohol advertising are being expanded outward. More significantly, the impact of the ‘influencer’ in the alcohol sphere has become an important marketing tool for raising brand awareness and driving case sales. A simple search on YouTube will quickly reveal innumerable posts and videos on the effective use of social media and the influencer to promote wine brand awareness.

  In the world of wine, there is room for influencers at all levels. Although in different forms, past practice supports this contention. There is little difference to the wine marketer between wine writers of the past and the videographer of the present. Whether it be number of points given by Parker, or the number of followers of an influencer, the goal is to raise brand awareness and ultimately move boxes. Obviously, certain categories of influencers will be used to advertise and market high-priced single varietals or a unique Meritage. Lower priced, broad market and perhaps younger focused labels require a different type of influencer.  However, the use of an influencer and the commensurate social media campaign, if not properly designed and executed, could be perilous for the brand owner.

  The purpose of this article is to provide the wine marketer who may be considering the use of influencers with the basic guidance for the effective use of the “influencer” and social media in order to withstand the scrutiny of alcohol regulatory authorities.

TTB and the FTC

  The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (“TTB”) promulgates rules for compliant labeling, advertising, and related trade practice matters. State(s) alcohol control boards possess the authority to promulgate and enforce their own similar rules within their borders.  The regulatory agencies are certainly known to the reader. There is another federal agency, less known to those in the industry, called the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), which the wine marketer should be aware of.

  The FTC is an independent agency within the federal government that is tasked with, in its own words, “…protecting consumers and competition by preventing anticompetitive, deceptive, and unfair business practices through law enforcement, advocacy, and education without unduly burdening legitimate business activity.” The FTC has stated publicly that it has the authority and ability to enforce alcohol advertising rules on various media including the social media and the use of influencers.

Trade Associations

  Historically, alcohol beverage producers self-regulated their advertising initiatives by adhering to the guidelines of three (3) influential producer associations. Those associations are: 1) The Beer Institute; 2) The Wine Institute and: 3) Distilled Spirts Council of the United States or DISCUS.

All three associations have published guidelines for brand owners of each commodity to follow as minimal industry standards.

  The FTC has adopted these rules and advises that alcohol advertisers should comply with these standards. The FTC has openly stated it can file enforcement actions against brand owners that disregard the adopted standards. It is important to note that to date, the FTC has not often enforced these rules through administrative action. Given the changing nature of advertising and the “pushing of the envelope” by young influencers of acceptable standards it is wise to be familiar with them and work to be sure they are complied with.

  The main concern of the FTC is advertising that is intentionally or inadvertently directed to underage consumers and where the content of the advertisement may be of particular appeal to the underage drinker. Since this is a wine focused publication, we direct the reader to the short list below taken from the Wine Institute, which outlines best and responsible practices. Note that this is not a complete list, but highlights the most significant factors to bear in mind when constructing advertising content and in particular, overseeing the content of influencers broadcast on social media platforms.

Responsible Content

  Wine advertising shall not depict or describe in its advertising:

•    The consumption of wine for the effects the alcohol may produce.

•    Direct or indirect reference to alcohol content or extra strength.

•    Excessive drinking or persons who appear to be intoxicated or to be inappropriately uninhibited.

•    Any suggestion that excessive drinking or loss of control is amusing or a proper subject for amusement.

•    Any persons engaged in activities not normally associated with the moderate and responsible use of wine and a responsible lifestyle. Association of wine use in conjunction with feats of daring or activities requiring high degree of skill is specifically prohibited.

•    Wine in quantities inappropriate to the situation or inappropriate for moderate and responsible use.

•    Wine advertising should not depict or encourage illegal activity of any kind.

•    Wine shall not be presented as being essential to personal performance, social attainment, achievement, success, or wealth.

•    The use of wine shall not be directly associated with social, physical, or personal problem solving.

•    Wine shall not be presented as vital to social acceptability and popularity.

•    It shall not be suggested that wine is crucial for successful entertaining.

•    Wine advertisers should not Show models and personalities as wine consumers in advertisements who are or appear to be under the legal drinking age. Such models shall be 25 years of age or older.

•    Use music, language, gestures, cartoon characters, or depictions, images, figures, or objects that are popular predominantly with children or otherwise specifically associated with or directed toward those below the legal drinking age, including the use of Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.

•    Be presented as being related to the attainment of adulthood or associated with “rites of passage” to adulthood.

•    Wine advertising shall in no way suggest that wine be used in connection with operating motorized vehicles such as automobiles, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles, or airplanes or any activities that require a high degree of alertness or physical coordination.

•    Comparative advertising claims shall be truthful and appropriately substantiated and shall not be disparaging of a competitor’s product.

•    Wine advertising shall not degrade, demean, or objectify the human form, image or status of women, men, or of any ethnic, minority, religious or other group or sexual orientation. Advertising shall not exploit the human form, or feature sexually provocative images.

  It is important to point out that the three essential elements of brand advertising incorporated into the Wine Institute, Beer Institute and DISCUS rules, which are designed to ensure that a particular brand does not appeal to underage consumers, are:

•    No more than 28.4% of an audience for an advertisement is to consist of people under 21 years of age.

•    Content of the advertisement should appeal to individuals over 21 years of age-conversely; content should not appeal to individuals under 21 years of age.

•    Models and Actors employed should be older than 25 years of age and reasonably appear to be over 21 years of age.

  When deciding on whether to partner with an influencer, wine marketers should scrutinize the past content of the influencer as well as thoroughly analyzing the demographics of the influencers target audience.

  Although the Wine Institute is silent on this issue, the DISCUS rules state that the 25 year old threshold for models and actors does not apply to athletes, celebrities, spokespersons and influencers of legal drinking purchase age that are generally recognizable to their intended audience (see Code of Responsible Practices Distilled Spirits Council of the United Sates). The influencer does not necessarily have to be older than 25 years of age.

  Beverage alcohol manufacturing, production, taxation, Tied-House, and related regulatory matters are complex. Trade practice and advertising rules, standing alone are also detailed and complex. As this article suggests, the internet, social media, and the influencer are acting as disrupters of an orthodox system of doing business. Of course, the new media and the new media stars offer tremendous opportunities to raise brand awareness that translates to more sales. The best advice here is be aware of acceptable and self-imposed industry standards and make them part of an effective social and influencer media driven campaign. The FTC is poised to enforce these regulations and likely will do so the more and more influencers test the acceptable limits of alcohol beverage advertising. As wine brand marketers, strive for compliance to stay off the radar of the regulatory authorities. To do otherwise, could be costly.

The Role of Oxygen in Winemaking

By: Becky Garrison  

During the Oregon Wine Symposium, held virtually from February 15-17, 2022, two sessions on the role of oxygen in winemaking. Following is a summary of some of these key findings.

  In explaining the role of oxygen, Dr. Gavin Sacks, professor and associate chair of food science at Cornell University, broke down how wineries utilize oxygen pre-fermentation, during fermentation and post-fermentation. When handling must and juices pre-fermentation, winemakers use the terms hyperreductive, reductive, oxidative and hyperoxidative. As these terms do not have rigorous regulatory definitions, winemakers use these terms in different ways. Generally, those winemakers, who talk about reductive versus oxidative, add sulfur dioxide in reductive winemaking, but they won’t add it in oxidative winemaking. Hyperreductive means that not only will sulfur dioxide be added, but there will also be an effort to minimize air contact pre-fermentation. Conversely, hyperoxidative means that while sulfur dioxide is not added, air is intentionally added.

  Under these conditions where one is using fresh must with no sulfur dioxide present, Sacks notes that the main route by which oxygen is consumed or reacts is going to be enzymatic enzymes either from the grape or enzymes from spoilage organisms like detritus. The reactions are classified under the generic term polyphenol oxidases. In the presence of oxygen, they will get converted into oxidized forms called quinones. As quinones are pretty short-lived, they will only form following mechanical damage, such as crushing and pressing fruit.

  According to Dr. Sacks, the most common way to slow down this enzymatic browning in a winery involves using antioxidants such as sulfur dioxide. These antioxidants will react with the quinones, but even more importantly, they will deactivate enzymes but is less effective on laccase found in molds. Other effective options are ascorbic acid and glutathione, which are in grapes and yeast (lees), as well as slowing it down to cooling. In addition, charcoal and bentonite can be used to bind to and remove some of the browning products and inactivate enzymes. Also, hyperoxidation followed by the brown product via flotation or filtration tends to decrease the browning potential of that eventual wine.

  Pre-fermentation oxygen exposure might not have a major effect, especially with aroma compounds, as most aroma compounds found in finished wine are not present in the juice or the must. Instead, they exist in precursor form or are produced de novo by the spore bylactic bacteria.

  In Dr. Sack’s estimation, oxidation matters much less than just letting the fruit sit around before fermenting. “This allows time for the glutathione 3-MH precursors to form. The resulting wine will have more intense aromas.”

  During fermentation, oxygen consumption continues to be relatively rapid due to the formation of carbon dioxide and the yeast utilizing oxygen enzymatically. Yeast cells have cell membranes composed of phospholipids, which have fatty acids. The yeast will try to modify these fatty acids in response to their environment. For example, under colder temperatures, yeast will increase the concentration of unsaturated fatty acids, thus increasing the need for oxygen.

  Post-fermentation, Sacks recommends looking at the oxygen consumption rate. Fresh must in actively fermenting wine is consuming oxygen at a rate of a few milligrams per liter per minute. In comparison, in post-fermentation, it’s down to one milligram per liter as non-enzymatic oxidation goes much more slowly. The main effects of oxygen on finished wine are attributed to microbial growth due to the presence of oxygen. This can result in an off flavor and haze formation, along with possible regulatory issues.

Chemical Changes in Wine Due to Oxidation

  Sacks refers to the main pathway for wine with little or no oxidation as the iron phenolic pathway because it involves oxygen, iron and diophenol. “The difference here is instead of having an enzymatic catalyst (TPO), now we’ve gotten iron as a catalyst,” he states.

  As the reaction proceeds, it will form an oxidized diophenol, just like when must is oxidized pre-fermentation. However, the big difference is that this also makes hydrogen peroxide. These two compounds are highly reactive and can result in the loss of sulfidryls (tannin reactions).

  Hydrogen peroxide will react with iron to generate hydroxyl free radicals. And then those hydroxyl radicals can direct indiscriminately with wind components to generate compounds like aldehydes, including acid aldehyde by oxidation ethanol. These compounds result in the oxidized smell of wine, such as acid aldehyde, which smells like bruised apples, cherry, walnut, baked potatoes or soy sauce. Also, hydrogen peroxide produces browning particles.

  One way some winemakers intentionally oxidize their wines is through Micro-oxygenation (Micro-ox), which is the treatment of wine with well-controlled small doses of oxygen over a short period of time. This will result in compounds that are referred to as wine pigments. They’re less bleachable by sulfur dioxide and not as prone to hydrolysis, so they’re more stable in a wine environment. Also, they’re the major contributors to the color of aged wines. Dr. Sacks referenced several experiments showing that if Micro-ox is done at roughly the same concentrations as an air saturation offering of six to nine milliliters per liter (milligrams per liter per month), this could have modest effects by increasing in the color intensity and wine pigment and slightly decrease astringency.

  Also, when sulfur dioxide is added to a wine, a portion will stay free, but a portion will also form strong chemical bonds with other components in wine,  referred to as binders. They act as a reducing agent to prevent oxidized changes or chemical oxidation from happening to the wine.

  In a research study exploring assessing the impact of free and total sulfur dioxide in bagged wine, Sacks observed that when they measured dissolved oxygen in these wines, it was always almost always near zero and undetectable. “So, oxygen is getting in, but it’s being consumed by the wine, but it’s also happening relatively fast with all the SO₂ being consumed in a year.”

How to Control Redox Potential Using Air During Fermentation

  Roger Boulton, a consultant for RB Boulton Inc. and emeritus professor of enology and chemical engineering at UC Davis, offered an in-depth analysis of the redox potential (reduction-oxidation potential) by first noting that dissolved oxygen in wine cannot and does not oxidize anything until it gets activated by components in solution (iron and copper tartrate complexes), temperature or light. Once activated, hydrogen peroxide is produced, which in turn causes a rapid rise in the redox potential of the juice or wine. Secondly, there is no relationship between dissolved oxygen level and redox potential. As might be expected, this is a major cause of confusion when winemakers and others talk about winemaking practices, oxygen exposure or oxidation of the wine.

  Once the fermentation begins and even before the yeast begins to grow, one of the components they secrete to control the redox potential around them is glutathione. As they do this, the redox potential declines. The decline in the potential will continue until yeast growth has ceased, typically at the point of the maximum fermentation rate. The higher the fermentation temperature, the faster the onset of fermentation and the quicker the decline in redox potential occurs.

  Introducing a small amount of air (resulting in less than one mg/L of dissolved oxygen) enables this amount of oxygen to be activated. This generates a burst of hydrogen peroxide that causes the redox potential to increase, usually by about 100 mV, over a period of approximately 30 minutes. Due to the reaction between peroxide and glutathione, the redox potential declines again, usually over the next few hours. The pattern is repeated if the air is added again, but this cannot begin until the redox potential has returned to a stationary value. The addition of dissolved oxygen at higher concentrations has no further effect. This is why controlling redox potential during fermentation is very different from simply controlling air addition or establishing a certain level of dissolved oxygen. Once yeast growth has ceased, there is no need to keep adding periodic amounts of air. And the redox potential will slowly return to its final level at the end of the fermentation.

  The motivation for controlling the redox potential during wine fermentation is to prevent the formation of hydrogen sulfide and other alkyl thiols and ethyl thioesters. If elemental sulfur is present as a residual from vineyard applications, it will produce small amounts of hydrogen sulfide when the redox potential is at low levels. Many juices can reach these levels during fermentation. The aim of controlling the redox potential during fermentation is to prevent this from happening. While the yeast creates these changes in the redox environment, it is the initial level of the potential and the sensitivity to change that is determined by the juice composition. This is why the formation of hydrogen sulfide varies so much across juices and yeast strains and why there is some confusion as to this being a property of the strain alone.

  For those looking to integrate a redox system into their own winery for fermentation control, Boulton recommends a Hamilton electrode probe ($2,000), which is the only probe he knows of currently that is food grade.

  Once fermentation has begun and significant levels of ethanol form, the addition of air and the activation of dissolved oxygen lead to the formation of a radical called the hydroxyethyl radical. The dihydroxy phenols (including tannins) do not appear to be oxidized or used during these redox-controlling reactions. Boulton notes, “In wine, it is the hydroxyethyl radical, not oxygen, that is the real villain if you wanted to talk about an oxidizing villain.” 

Oxygen in Action: Cellar Techniques

  Johnny Brose, the winemaking instructor at Chemeketa Community College and moderator of these sessions, toured several vineyards in Oregon and California to learn how these winemakers dealt with oxygen in their respective wineries. Among his key findings:

  Scott Kelley, the owner/winemaker at Paul O’Brien Winery (Roseburg, OR), uses a center stone to inject pure oxygen into his ferments.

  Ryan Rech, the senior winemaker, and Dr. Jonathan Cave, an analytical chemist for Berringer Vineyards (Helena, CA), use a low-level nitrogen pressure that prevents oxygen from coming in. All their tanks have a headspace management system that they monitor year-round.

  Ryan Hodgins, the winemaker for FEL Wines (Yountville, CA), utilizes a nitrogen generator to flush their tanks.

  Jeff Menganhaus, VP and winemaker at Williams Selyem (Healdsburg, CA), uses argon and pressurized tanks in his winemaking process.

Use of DO Meters in the Winery

  Finally, Brose demonstrated a range of DO (dissolved oxygen) meters. The first was an Electrochemical (Galvanic and Polargraphic), which is very portable and inexpensive ($500 to $2,000). This requires an electrolyte solution to be inserted into the probe and flushed and rinsed before each measurement. Low temperatures and pressure changes can lead to very inaccurate measurements. An optical DO meter is lower maintenance and offers more precise measurements. But it is relatively more expensive ($1,000 to $4,000) and requires more time to obtain accurate measurements. At the high end of the scale are OxvDot Sensors, which are typically utilized in research or large-scale production sites and are more stationary, with a price point of $20,000 or more. They provide an instant measurement of oxygen in both liquid and gas and can be read in real-time.

  In assessing when to use a DO meter, Dr. Sacks recommends focusing on the bottling and packaging process. Once the wine is off the lees, non-enzymatic chemical oxidation is the dominant route for oxygen to be consumed. A DO meter can evaluate the integrity of the tanks and the quality of transport processes to help winemakers understand where the wine is picking up oxygen, how much oxygen and then do something to address it.

Bernhardt Winery: New World Winery, Old World Wines

 By: Nan McCreary

Deep in the heart of Texas, located in the piney woods and rolling hills surrounding Plantersville, is a small boutique winery that offers visitors not just an opportunity to taste quality Texas wines in a picturesque setting but also to experience the wines of the ancients, be it Mavrud from Bulgaria or Limiona from Greece.

  “It’s fascinating to me that these are the grapes enjoyed thousands and thousands of years ago by ancient ancestors like Spartacus, Aristotle, Homer and Alexander the Great,” winery founder Jerry Bernhardt told The Grapevine Magazine.  “I’m always sniffing out indigenous wines that are experiencing a revival today and adding them to our selection.”

  Bernhardt’s “selection” includes 33 varieties of traditional wines sourced primarily from grapes and juice throughout Texas, as well as the seven ancient grapes in its Antiquity Wine Curation.  The Texas wines fulfill Bernhardt Winery’s mission “to provide our customers with quality wines and a fun tasting experience in a warm environment,” while the Antiquity series takes the love of wine to an entirely new level.  That mission is “to find indigenous varieties as close to the genetic original and grown in the same terroir as in ancient times.  We hope to recreate a shared communal experience of our ancestors such as love, passion, family and celebration through the tasting of these age-old wine.” Based on the number of visitors to the winery and wine sales and awards, Jerry Bernhardt and his team have surpassed expectations in both missions.

  Bernhardt opened his namesake winery in 2005 as, he laughed, “a retirement project gone wrong.”  He had always wanted to know more about wine, he said, so as a former engineer and builder, he understood that the best way to learn was to “just go do it or build it.”  And so he did. He and his wife began making home-made wine, and he spent two years interning with the pioneering winemakers in nearby Fredericksburg, the Texas Hill Country home to over 50 vineyards and wineries today. One of his mentors was the French-born Bénédicte Rhyne, winemaker at Kuhlman Cellars in Stonewall and international wine consultant. He and Rhyne still maintain a partnership today.

  When Bernhardt opened his doors, he offered four wines, all with grapes or juice sourced from Texas vineyards:  A red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon), a white wine (Blanc du Bois), a Rosé (made from red and white grapes) and a Port, a barrel-aged Cabernet Sauvignon fortified with brandy and aged for a year in a proprietary barrel. The first year’s production was 900 gallons, or around 370 cases. Today, Bernhardt produces 15,000 gallons annually, or over 6,100 cases.

  As he’s grown, Bernhardt has not strayed from his commitment to produce quality wines. In his quest for excellence and diversity, he diligently oversees and harvests Blanc Du Bois and a few rows of Black Spanish from 1.5 acres on his 20-acre property, and sources the rest from reliable, tried-and-true vineyards. He and his winemaker, his nephew Jonathan Schrock, select grapes and juice carefully, always based on quality.  “What we produce depends on the year,” Schrock explained.  “In Texas, we have good years and bad years.  If the quality is there, we may source 100 percent from an area.  But if it isn’t, we will go elsewhere. It all depends on the quality, and whether we can get it here safely without oxidation or other flaws.”

  While the wines Bernhardt produces in Texas require careful oversight, the bottles shipped from Bulgaria and Greece come from trusted winemakers who have benefited from financial support, training and promotional opportunities provided by their local government. Since visiting the Plantersville winery in 2017, the Bulgarians have developed a solid relationship with Bernhardt, and are eager for Americans to experience the quality of wines coming from these ancient regions. As importers, Bernhardt Winery simply promotes and sells the wine. “They are so good,” he said, “they fly off the shelves. We sell out of everything we import.”

  Currently, Bernhardt imports 30,000 bottles of wine annually in his Antiquity collection.  The Bulgarian wines include: Mavrud, regarded as the one of the most highly esteemed wines in Bulgaria, with evidence of production 7,000 years ago, and possibly an ancient clone of clone of Mourvedre; Sauvignon Blanc, with origins believed to go back 1,000 years; Chardonnay, originally propagated on the Danube River plains by the Romans on their march to France; Rosé Inanna, regarded as the Queen of Heaven and the most popular goddess in all of Mesopotamia, and planted on the same Mesopotamian soil dating back to this ancient time; Cabernet Franc, native to the Loire Valley in France, and an up-and-coming grape that thrives in Bulgaria’s moderate climate; Sangiovese, more ancient than early Rome; and Syrah, an ancient grape with historical records dating back to 20 AD. The one grape from Greece in the Antiquity collection is Limniona, written about by Homer and Aristotle, and currently enjoying a revival in its home region of Thessaly, and increasing popular in Greece and abroad. Each bottle shares the story of the wine on the label.

  While Jerry Bernhardt is a big fan of the wines of Bulgaria — known for its diverse microclimates and soils favorable for quality wine production — importing these wines (and the Limniona) fulfills his passion for educating people about wine, plus he sees it as a wise business decision.  “I learned very

quickly that diversification is important,” he told The Grapevine Magazine. “With fires and freezes, and other variables, if you only have one source, you’re in trouble. Also, importing these wines gives us another level of top quality products to represent without having to invest millions to increase our capacity. We’re very comfortable where we are.”

  Comfortable, yes, but Bernhardt’s not ready to rest on his laurels.  He and winemaker Schrock are both self-described “creative” people and continue to push the envelope in search of new products, be they ancient grape varieties or different expressions of Texas fruit. “When we make blends, we may sit down and pull samples from 20 barrels,” Bernhardt said.  “We sniff and taste until we find the flavor profile we want.  We don’t blend based on what the wine’s going to taste like three or five years from now; My philosophy is to make wines that are designed to drink now.” So far, results of these “experiments” have proved to be very successful.  Schrock invented a wine called Black Zinnish, a blend of Black Spanish mixed with Texas Zinfandel, which has been extremely popular.  He also came up with Bayou Blend, a unique mix of Texas grapes, bottled in April this year and nearly sold out by July. Yet another best-seller is Cabernet Sauvignon Nouveau, a unique expression of the grape Cabernet Sauvignon that features new fruit without any aging.  “We want people to simply taste the fruit itself,” Schrock said.

  As Bernhardt moves into the future, customers can expect to taste new blends, particularly those that express differences in oak aging. “We’re using next-generation barrels (made with an oxygen permeable polymer shell) that can be used and reused, with oak coming from very high quality staves,” Schrock explained. “The staves are a ‘recipe,’ depending on the type of oak and the amount of toast we want. We get exposure from all four sides — not just one — and the staves are cut thinner to provide greater surface area for faster extraction.” As Texas grapes become more popular and availability increases, Schrock will have more and more opportunities to express his creativity. “My favorite part of winemaking is the oak aging,” he said. “Playing with the staves gives me such freedom.  I can choose staves to open up tannins or structure or I can use blends of new and old oak, for example. I can really experiment and take the wines to the next level. It’s a lot of work, but less work than moving wine from barrel to barrel.”

  Whether customers want to sample the best of Texas wines or imagine they’re sharing an ancient wine with Aristotle, Jerry Bernhardt promises guests a fun experience. The Tuscan-Style winery is a blend of old-world charm and modern luxury surrounded by 20 acres of rolling hills and 200-year-old pecan trees. It’s a perfect setting for enjoying a picnic, or any of the musical events the winery hosts on the weekends. “To sum it up, what’s important to us is to give people quality wine and a fun experience in a warm environment.  You can find it all here, from local Texas wines to wines from across the world that are tied to our ancestors.  For us, it’s all about a human connection.  The quality of our shared experiences nudges us emotionally, and that’s what we want to provide. We want to share a story…and share a relationship.”

For more information on Bernhardt Winery, visit www.bernhardtwinery.com

Material Handling Within the Winery and Vineyard Auto Draft

By: Gerald Dlubala

“Most winery owners don’t see the whole picture when considering the best ways to move their product around the winery and vineyard,” said Sam McHenry, president of Accurate Forklift Inc. McHenry has been providing material handling equipment to the wine industry for decades, even designing some of them himself. “There’s much more to think about in material handling than just how to get something from one point to another, and it comes down to the location’s characteristics and intended layout. When recommending the right forklift for the job, we look first at the harvest and apply the Christopher Columbus principle, meaning the world is not flat and will tremendously affect your equipment stability given the chance. Is the area that we are working on flat or paved? If so, we recommend an electric-powered forklift or pallet jack with cushion tires. If it’s not, and you’re expecting to use your equipment off-road, in fields or over rough or uneven areas with potholes, then you’ll need fork trucks with larger, air-filled tires for stability.”

  “The type and size of fork truck needed are also determined by your harvesting plans and equipment used,” said McHenry. “Will you be harvesting during the day or night? Do you anticipate harvesting for eight hours a day? Fifteen? Around the clock? Current electric-run equipment will generally give you about eight hours of runtime before needing the same amount of time to recharge unless you have a backup battery, secondary truck and hoisting equipment on hand to change batteries, a pricey option. Propane-powered trucks can be kept running with a simple tank change or refill at an on-premises propane tank station with the proper filling attachments and safety precautions. Gas or diesel options need only extra fuel on hand.

  McHenry said that vineyard owners also need to consider their field-loading activities. How is the loading area constructed? What are the widths of the rows? Your material-handling equipment has to be able to maneuver within these parameters. What type of bins does your vineyard use for their grapes? Do you use the Valley Gondola type of bins? Many smaller wineries use the macro-bins. When you combine the bins’ and grapes’ weights, you must ensure the equipment you’re using is rated for that weight, especially if the terrain and landscape will play a part. McHenry tells The Grapevine Magazine that he regularly sees accidents happen because vineyards use improperly rated equipment for the conditions and tasks they are performing.

  “It gets down to physics at that point,” said McHenry. “The type of landscape and terrain you’re working on and the type and size of holding bins you use determines the capacity level needed of your fork trucks. Anything less runs a high risk of overloading your equipment, possibly risking the health and life of the equipment operators and nearby workers. This same principle holds for the attachment used for dumping your harvest. Using rotating attachments, they must be able to reach and dump where you need them. Forward dumping bins have become popular because of their easier, more predictable use. Likewise, presses and fermentation tanks come in different types, weights, sizes, and volumes, making them all unique in their handling needs. To properly size the equipment, we have to consider the load centers, heights, and ease of movement around the tanks. For example, I was responsible for getting fork pockets added into the design of the egg-shaped fermenters for safer movement and positioning. Until then, these awkward-shaped fermenters were moved with forklifts, some undersized, and straps that wrapped around the egg shape. It wasn’t a very safe or ideal situation.”

Barrel Storage and Manipulation Equipment Requires Planning

  Barrels come in all different sizes, shapes, weights, and volumes and can be used for storage or in barrel fermentation, and the type, use, and storage methods that the winery uses will determine the type of equipment needed. Wineries can store barrels in their barrel rooms, warehouses, or caves in pyramid stacks, individual rows, or two-to-four-barrel racks, depending on their physical location and production capabilities. The process of in-barrel fermentation requires other aspects of material handling equipment, including side grabbers, barrel rotator clamps, and more. As with vineyard specifications, aisle widths, backup, and turnaround space are all important when choosing the proper handling equipment for the space.

  “The process is tedious, demanding focus, planning, and calculations, including the choice between equipment rental or purchase,” said McHenry. “Talk with experienced professionals in the industry and other wineries that currently use the equipment you’re considering to get honest feedback about use in real situations. The result will be a safer, more ergonomic, more efficient workplace that will experience increased production and less waste”.

Racking Increases Square Footage Efficiency 

  Greg Weinerth is president of Enterprising Solutions, a multi-faceted professional services company providing warehouse and storage solutions to all industries, including the craft beverage and wine industry.

  “Racking can be as simple as the common rack found in any commercial kitchen or production facility, to pushback racks that save or eliminate aisle space by allowing pallet storage up to six pallets deep, to complete systems featuring drive-in racks,” said Weinerth. “We know that square footage is expensive, so it’s critical to talk to a professional for layout efficiency, including aisle depth and width. If the winery or vineyard already has the equipment that they’ll use for handling the product, then obviously we need to factor that into the racking layout and plan.”

  Weinerth tells The Grapevine Magazine that pallet racking sounds simple, but it demands a floor plan that fits in conjunction with your winery’s specifications. For example, Weinerth says that when formulating a workable and efficient layout, you must be aware of the building or storage area’s height restrictions, aisle width needs, and intended machinery use. The installation of a new or replacement racking system may be subject to getting the proper permits, including reassessing the existing fire sprinkler, egress, and evacuation systems.

  Additionally, many locales now require a seismic evaluation, including a torque test proving the safety of the racking anchors. Structural engineers usually perform these evaluations and are mandated at the municipal level depending on the winery’s proximity to past and potential seismic activity.

  “And we all remember the old way of providing a solid deck in vertical racking by laying plywood down as a base between the supporting members,” said Weinerth.  “That isn’t allowed anymore due to fire regulations. Wire decking is the preferred choice because it allows water from the fire sprinklers to travel down and through the racking to impact all stored products. For that same reason, your palleted product can be stretch wrapped on the sides but should not be stretch-wrapped over the top of products or cases on the pallet. Water must be able to access the product on the pallet as well. A typical business owner may not have the specific, relatable knowledge that a quality, experienced material provider will know about and walk them through.”

  Weinerth said that he sees the popularity of direct-to-consumer shipping affecting the type of racking systems that wineries are now choosing. Mini pick systems are gaining attention and popularity because of the possibility of offering a direct-to-consumer wine club subscription service. They can ship a subscription box filled with the consumer’s choice of wines directly to their most loyal consumers. When not able to be done by hand, the picking and packing usually require equipment like a stand-up, narrow-aisle lift equipped with a picking mechanism.

“Larger production wineries can benefit from racking systems that allow a driver to load the palletized product into the racks from one end and then pull those products from the opposite end, ensuring that older inventory is used first. Also popular with larger production wineries is the use of self-guided vehicles, electric-powered material handling machines that can unload, locate and inventory products in one task, which immediately updates the winery’s accounting and inventory system in real-time before moving on to its next task. This type of automation is becoming more accessible to the general market and will soon be able to be applied to a broader number of systems and be able to be used on a 24/7 basis if needed.”

  Weinerth said that additional considerations that a winery or vineyard must make in determining material handling needs include the type and position of loading docks used and if there are any clearance issues, turning areas or landscape limitations that necessitate the use of ramps or specialized equipment. Generally, standard gravity-operated conveyor systems are adequate for the needs of wineries.

Multi-Use, Ergonomic Equipment Increases Efficiency and Productivity: Bishamon Industries

  “Care inside the winery must be equal to the care in the vineyards,” said Brian Dedmon, director of sales for Bishamon Industries Corporation. “There are two main pieces of equipment we see used within wineries that fill most of their needs daily, our EZ Loader line of self-leveling pallet positioners and our Uni Lift pallet lifter, positioner and transporter.”

  Bishamon’s EZ Loader line of self-leveling pallet positioners are popular choices for everyday winery tasks like loading or unloading cases. It features a 4,000-pound capacity and adjusts by way of a self-contained air system that the user can fill with a bicycle pump eliminating the springs and mechanical aspects of other positioners that routinely wear out. In addition, the EZ Loader can be quickly

moved and easily positioned with a forklift as a side table for packaging functions or anywhere a little extra table space is needed, like moving product from conveyor to pallet or taking it off of the line.

  “Our positioners also offer options including square platforms instead of the circular designs, FDA compliant tops or stainless-steel designs,” said Dedmon. “With the portability and ease of adjustment, we can increase productivity while helping to eliminate production safety risks and overall worker fatigue, leading to fewer compensation claims.”

  “Our UniLift is a multi-use piece of machinery wrapped into a hand-powered, battery-operated pallet jack,” said Dedmon. “It’s a pallet lifter, positioner and transporter all in one unit, and as far as I know, it’s the only unit like this that works on closed bottom pallets. It can lift and transport a pallet without straddling it because it contains outriggers that the user deploys when needed. These outriggers allow wineries to create tighter work cells and better utilize their square footage. More available square footage means greater efficiency with more lines and increased production using fewer person-hours. The UniLift can also raise and lower pallets during stacking or unstacking, creating an ergonomically beneficial work site.”

  Bishamon Industries provides quality, innovative ergonomic products that enhance worker safety while improving productivity in industries that include the wine and craft beverage sectors from the company headquarters in Ontario, California.

FILTRATION FOR WINERIES: Purifying Wines With Traditional Means and Cutting-edge Technology  Auto Draft

By: Cheryl Gray

“Why?” is not the question when it comes to filtering wine. How best to perform filtration is the real question, answered in part by the technology and innovation now available.

  First, some history on the evolving process of filtration may help wineries looking to upgrade gain some perspective on how far the filtration industry has come.

  For more than a century, small wineries have used sheet filters. For the small operations that need more flexibility to create a variety of small wine batches, sheet filtration is modified to include plate and frame format. Lenticular modules represent a modern-day approach to sheet filters. The modules are assembled in an enclosed area to avoid drip loss and to provide extra flexibility, better hygienic conditions and, of course, ease of use.

  DE filtration (Diatomaceous Earth) was at one time the most common filtration method used to clarify wine on a large scale. DE filtration systems use rotary drum filters and chamber press filters that can remove a high volume of solids. However, their open design lets in oxygen, which can ruin wine quality. The result is recovered wine that requires more processing and is ultimately downgraded to be used in blends instead of added back to the original wine batch.

  Crossflow membrane systems have replaced DE filtration in many of the world’s winemaking regions. Wine filtration systems based on the crossflow membrane method trigger cost savings by reducing wine loss, labor and other factors normally associated with filter-assisted technologies. Additionally, by replacing DE filtration with crossflow membrane filtration, wineries can operate without creating the landfills formerly used to store solid waste, thus removing many of the inherent problems landfills pose that threaten the environment and operator safety.

  Finally, there is the centrifugation method, which is typically used at larger wineries. Centrifugation is usually followed up with a crossflow filtration system to achieve the clarity each winery wants to accomplish with its finished product.

  From flat sheet filtration used to the more sophisticated centrifugation and crossflow membrane systems, nearly all wineries filtering their wine do so with a checklist of items they want to separate from their products. Beginning with post-fermentation, removing things such as dead yeast cells, bacteria, grape skins and seeds is important. During the aging process, hazes and deposits form from combinations of proteins, phenolics, tannins and polysaccharides. In low temperatures, unstable bitartrate can form the glass-like crystals seen in, for example, white wine.

Among the companies specializing in helping wineries increase wine yields and prevent waste is Pall Corporation. This global supplier of filtration, separation and purification products is headquartered in Port Washington, New York, with manufacturing plants and offices located elsewhere in the United States and around the globe, including a plant currently under construction in Singapore.

  The company’s founder, Dr. David Pall, started the business in 1946 as Micro Metallic Corporation. Initially concentrating on creating filters for aircraft, the company changed its name to Pall Corporation in 1957. What would follow would be more than 50 years of innovation. In its early days, Pall Corporation became the frontrunner in providing filtration systems designed to protect the safety of global blood supplies and improve the outcomes of patients receiving blood transfusions.

  Dr. Pall received nearly 200 patents over his lifetime and was awarded the National Medal of Technology by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. The award recognized Dr. Pall’s vast achievements in advancing filtration technology, including the groundbreaking roles the company played in historical events, such as man’s first walk on the moon, the Three Mile Island clean-up, Desert Storm and the construction of the $10 billion Eurotunnel beneath the English Channel between France and England. 

  One of the company’s primary services to wineries is providing filtration systems that maximize yields from wine lees. According to experts, this sediment at the bottom of wine tanks can yield up to 15 percent of total production for a winery. Pall focuses on multiple kinds of lees because missing any one of them presents a costly loss for wineries if not recouped through filtration. Pall says it recognizes the filtration challenge that wineries face in recovering products while at the same time meeting environmental demands to reduce waste. Pall notes that its products are designed to accomplish both. 

  Pall designs filtration systems to fit the needs of wineries of all sizes. For smaller operations, there are the company’s sheet filtration systems. There are products such as Pall’s Oenoflow PRO XL systems for medium and larger wineries. Pall says that these products clarify wine in one process, absent any filtering aids, centrifugation or adverse impact on the wine. The system is fully automated is designed to provide wineries with a cost-saving alternative to traditional wine filtration methods by boosting yields, reducing waste and maintaining even filtration quality. 

  The Oenoflow Pro System has a feature called an Optimized algorithm developed by Pall, which is connected to Pall servers through a secure line. If the connection is ever interrupted, the system continues to operate. The Optimized algorithm adjusts all of the system’s filtration settings, and the user-friendly system only requires some basic information to start the filtration process. For greater flexibility, the algorithm can be disabled or enabled at any time.

  Other companies tout their own innovations in wine filtration systems. One of them is The Vintner Vault. Founded in 2003, the company has two California locations, Paso Robles and Temecula, with a third location in Hye, Texas.

  The Vintner Vault custom-builds winery equipment of every sort and has installed filtration systems of all types for wineries of every size. It offers consulting and turn-key services for clients looking to start new or upgrade existing operations. The company offers filtration options that include frame and plate, centrifuge, crossflow and even a filtration system that uses reverse osmosis. Andrew Berg, vice-president of The Vintner Vault, says that primarily, medium- to large-size wineries use the reverse osmosis system. 

  Unlike a traditional filter, the wine product that passes through the membrane used in reverse osmosis does not contain any of the wine’s flavor or color components. This means virtually no loss of anthocyanin, phenolics, tartaric, malic or citric acids essential to good wine. 

  A reverse osmosis membrane can perform this unique task because it is 10,000 tighter than a regular filter. Wineries use this type of system to adjust alcohol content and flavor concentration, remove water from juices, remove sulfide, purify water, restart fermentations that get stuck and reduce volatile acidity. With regard to the latter, experts warn that the reverse osmosis system works in tandem with a volatile acidity system in order to effectively remove VA. 

  Many small, start-up wineries and home winemakers turn to Northern Brewer of St. Paul, Minnesota for wine filtration supplies. The company began as a small storefront in 1993 and has grown into a competitive winemaking and home brewing supplier. Its wine filtering systems handle anywhere from fewer than six gallons up to 60 gallons of wine per hour.

  Winemakers use multiple techniques to improve wine yields and the appearance of their wines, along with shelf life. Executing these tasks correctly can increase profits and cut waste while creating a clear and stable wine product.

Undiscovered Gems: Wine Regions of Africa  Auto Draft

By: Hanifa Sekandi

Some say that South Africa is the only wine region in Africa that you should venture to if you ever make it to this beautiful continent. Is this true? It might be if you are unaware of the breathtaking vineyards in other countries. Viticulture in Africa has barely scratched the surface. It is not as widespread compared to North American and European wine markets. Both continents have lucrative and renowned wineries. As winemakers strive to tip the scale in competition, it is not surprising that wine savants have their eye on what many call the Motherland, where all things began. There is no question that the climate in many African countries is ideal for vines to grow. And harvesting biodynamic wines is also possible since an existing diverse ecosystem permits this with ease. Also, life in Africa is deeply-entrenched with nature. In addition, there is an understanding that all species must live in harmony. The great vineyards in Africa do not rule those lands. They become a part of its history as they plant their roots in ancient mineral-rich soils.

  When people think of diversity in viticulture, they generally stay within the framework of wines made in North America or Europe. Entry into the wine market on a global scale is easier for these regions. The dominance of such wines has nothing to do with quality at times. Although, one cannot say that a vintage bottle of Bordeaux made from a prestigious winery in France is not worth every penny. South African and Moroccan wines have created a buzz, but there is still more to discover.

  Thanks to the evolving times, social media and the internet document many undiscovered gems. This allows one to see that the wine industry has barely touched the edge of exploration and possibility. It is also a surprising notion since a form of wine has been made for thousands of years in many countries worldwide. What brings all these nations together? European travelers bought their vines and their winemaking to them, thus planting an interconnected web of vines and winemaking traditions globally. 

  Come along and explore just a few undiscovered, breathtaking and small but mighty wine regions in Africa. The first stop is Madagascar, and finally, Ethiopia on this new adventure. They are contenders for sustainable, organic and biodynamic winemaking. Sustainable practices exist in these regions out of necessity. As this movement takes hold globally, winemakers who want to cut down on waste while still producing wines that respect the land and allow nature to flourish freely may also adopt these sustainable practices.

Wines Of Madagascar

  Winemaking in Madagascar started with the French colonialists. The first vineyards are said to have been established by Jesuit missionaries. The intention for growing wine initially was not for commerce or how one enjoys wine today. Records from this time show that the sale of wine at the Maromby Monastery was a source of income for

the monks. Large-scale wine sales in this region did

not occur until after the emancipation from the French in the 1960s. The Swiss saw an opportunity on this island. They intended to rebuild through a development aid program in the mid-late 1960s. Some would say it was a short-lived enterprise since they withdrew from this program in 2011. Unfortunately, even with the aid, they did not make significant headway in the wine industry. Their exit left a big gap for winemakers who have not been able to gain the momentum needed to compete on a large scale. The wine produced in Madagascar is geared towards the local market and tourists. Rum is the main export.

  Vines are planted on the highlands on steep slopes and in areas with cooler altitudes. This helps prevent fungal disease and high levels of alcohol in the grapes that have not reached the ideal ripeness for harvesting. Pineapples, rice paddies, bananas and sugar cane are also planted nearby. The plant diversity among the vines demonstrates that vines can co-exist and thrive. The need to clear lands simply for grapes is not necessary. Perhaps, this is a great initiative to model for newer winemakers considering biodynamic practices. It is also an opportunity to increase their profit margins by selling other fruits grown on their land at local farmers’ markets or having an on-site shop. Yes, Madagascar is behind and nowhere near being considered successful in the wine market. But this wine region does provide a gateway to new ways to create biodynamic vineyards. Rice paddies are situated in the low-lying, damp valleys below vines nestled on the hillsides. Both benefit from the placement since the terraced slope runoff allows the rice to thrive.

  Since Madagascar is off the East coast of Africa in the Southern Hemisphere, grapes are harvested in the rainy season during February. The process of winemaking here is unique. Winemakers here allow their senses and instincts to determine when grapes are ripe—a simple yet effective method to replace a refractometer. From here, grapes are fermented in large concrete vats, where a mechanical press is used for extraction. The liquid is transferred to another concrete vat that contains sugar and preservatives. It will further ferment for approximately six months. The richness of color in the red wines made here is due to the skin remaining on the grapes during fermentation. Ready-to-bottle wine is bottled in previously used bottles by hand. The entire bottling process is done by hand, including labeling and corking. Wasting bottles is not an option. The labels of old bottles are peeled off, and bottles are cleaned and reused.

  Seven of the eight wineries on this island use a French-American hybrid grape. Only one winery, Clos Nomena, uses Vitis vinifera, a European grape varietal touted by sommeliers, who say that the finest wines are made with these grapes.

The Growing Vines Of Ethiopia

  Tej is a traditional Ethiopian wine once consumed by the nobility and that dates back centuries. It consists of water, gesho and honey. Gesho is a plant that is similar to hops. Although this drink does not contain grapes, it is still classified as wine in this region. Many liken it to mead, an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting water, grain, spices, fruits and honey. Although wine in this country has existed since the first millennium A.D., the presence of large-scale vineyards with methods attributed to European wine cultivation only began in the late 1950s. The oldest and most well-known vineyard in this region is Awash Winery. It was established in 1956 under the helm of real estate developer Mulugeta Tesfakiros and politician Ras Mesfin Sileshi. In 2013, it was acquired by the Blue Nile company and partnered with 8 Mile, a company chaired by legendary musician Sir Bob Geldof. This partnership aims to expand its global reach and scale of production by building another distillery.

  Approximately 10,000 million bottles of wine, primarily consumed within Ethiopia, are produced annually by Awash Wineries. The second winery, Castel Winery, produces the remaining bottles, approximately two million bottles annually. It was established in 2007 and located in Zway, south of Addis Ababa. Awash Winery is in Awash Merti Jersu. The proximity to the equator allows for harvest to occur twice a year due to a shorter vegetation cycle. Harvest occurs from June to July and from November to December. This is a great benefit that European vineyards do not get to experience. Perhaps this makes up for some of the other shortcomings that the Awash vineyards must navigate. Harvested grapes are transported for seven hours down the vineyard winery path. It is a somewhat long journey that leaves them vulnerable to the scorching sun burning their skin. Even with a protective shield placed on top, the sun’s powerful rays can still permeate this barrier. To ensure that the grapes are cool enough before pressing, they are left overnight in the truck, a method that offsets the day’s travel under the beaming sun. At the Awash Winery, there is a small selection of wines offered. Axumit Sweet Red Wine is a much-loved wine by Ethiopian locals. Similar to Madagascar wineries, the bottles are recycled for rebottling purposes. The bottles themselves are collectibles since some have been used for over five decades – true history in a bottle indeed.

  Castel Winery is a partnership between the Ethiopian Government and the Castel Group. Partnering with a company responsible for making and distributing premier beer and wine brands is a formidable venture. Both parties believe that this winery will be able to compete with South African wineries since it is in a region located 1,600 meters above sea level and where temperatures sit evenly at around 25 degrees Celsius each year. The sandy soils also benefit from the approximately 650 millimeters of annual rainfall. Bordeaux vines were imported and planted in this region and occupy most of the space in these vineyards. There are two ranges of wines produced at Castel. The most notable wine is Rift Valley. It is a premium wine aged in French oak barrels. With the help of the European Union’s Everything But Arms program and AGOA program, Castel Winery plans to expand into European and North American markets.

  The undiscovered gems for African wineries do not stop in these two countries. As you know, when a seed is planted, growth is inevitable. Other African countries are taking note. So, this journey into the unknown world of the Motherland’s wineries will continue. Like the bottles that have circulated in the hands of many, there is more to this story. For now, dream of an evening in Antananarivo, Madagascar spent drinking Clos Nomena-made wine or a day in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia having your first sip of Tej.

How to Clean Winery Hoses

By: Tom Payette, Winemaking Consultant

In the last issue of The Grapevine Magazine this section addressed how to clean a wine tank.  In reality a clean wine tank is of little benefit if the means of getting the juice or wine to that tank is a contamination source in itself.  Just as much diligence needs to be applied to the wine transfer hoses to insure a wine arrives at it’s destination in as microbial free state as it left the previous storage container.

Chemistry

  The chemistry of cleaning the winery hoses is very similar to cleaning the wine tanks or most anything else in the winery for that matter.  One must have physical cleanliness first.  In this case this means all of the solid particles are removed from a surface prior to or in conjunction with a high pH cleaner.  Once dirt is removed from a surface the chemical may react on that surface to clean and kill certain microbes that will not survive in the harsh environment of a higher pH.  After physical cleanliness is achieved and the high pH cleaner has cleaned the surface, a low pH cleaner such as citric acid may be used to neutralize the high pH cleaner and to kill certain microbes that will not live in those lower pH environments.   Make sure all cleaners used are suitable for the wine industry and are safe for the winery.

Items Needed

All safety material to include but not be limited to:

•    Safety goggles

•    Rubber gloves

•    Rubber boots

•    Hat and/or chemical resistant rain gear

•    High pH cleaner (such as Soda Ash)

•    Low pH rinser (such as Citric acid)

•    Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS or equivalent) for all chemicals used.

•    Eyewash station or portable eyewash

      A light citric and water solution (2 tbsp per 2 gallons of water)

Other items needed will include:

•    Pump that will handle warm water and the chemicals desired.

•    Wine transfer hoses that will stand up to warm water and all chemicals used.

•    pH meter (optional but the winery really should have one anyway)

•    Flashlight(s)

•    Sponge balls at diameter(s) needed for hose inside diameter.  (See photo)

•    Tub for water circulation

•    Water Source

Preparation

  Apply all safety gear and prepare a light citric and water solution in a bucket to set aside.  This is a light “lemonade strength” water that may come in useful should some of the high pH cleaner come in contact with your skin.  [Roughly two tbsp. of citric in two gallons of water depending on the tap water pH]  Select a good positive displacement pump from the cellar that will help power a sponge ball through the wine hoses to be cleaned.  Collect all of the wine hoses you want to clean.  The author prefers to do this on the crush pad just after harvest, in the spring and just prior to harvest at a minimum.

Procedure

1.   Apply all safety gear necessary to be safe while doing the tasks described.  This is an internal winery decision that the winery will need to address.

2.   Move all equipment outside that needs to be used to clean the hoses.

3.   Have the “lemonade strength” bucket of water mixture mentioned above placed close by and in a spot that can be easily located.

4.   On the suction side of the pump assemble a       short section of hose.  This hose should be long enough to span from the tub of cleaning water to the pump.

5.   Assemble the other remaining sections of hose on the pressure side of the pump from the largest internal diameter size to the smaller internal diameter size.  An example may be having all the 2” sections connected, then a reducer to the 1.5 inch sections down to 1 inch and three quarters and so on.

6.   Once all the connections are made, start to fill the tub with clean fresh water.  Warm, not hot, may be the best water for this process. A good target temperature should be in the 90 degrees F. temperature range.

7.   While the tub is filling, one may start and stop the pump to fill the lines with water.  Memorize the direction of the flow since we will always run the pump in that direction for this exercise.   [This is important so we do not suck the sponge balls we will using back into the head of the pump.]

8.   Once the lines are full be sure to pump about 10 gallons of water out on the floor to eliminate any obvious solids that may have collected in the hoses during storage.  (This is especially true if wine hose is stored curled up on the floor – not a recommended way to store winery hose).

9.   Once the winery lines are completely full with water one may stop the pump.

10. Gently disconnect the discharge side of the pump from the pump head fittings and insert the proper size sponge ball to clean the smallest size internal diameter of hose assembled in this set up.

11. Reconnect the discharge side of the hose back to the pump.

12. Turn the pump on in the direction to push the sponge ball through to the lines to be cleaned.  Leave the discharge end of the hose in the tub for the time being to conserve water.

13. Follow the sponge ball visually, if possible, through the maze of hose making sure the suction line has a continuous source of water supplied.

14. Once the sponge ball reaches the specified diameter of hose it is designed/sized to clean, keep an eye on the hoses since one may see a slight pressurization and accordion type movement in the hoses at this time.  Be aware fittings could be blown off under pressure.

15. As the sponge ball makes its way through the lines and the ball has about 7 feet more to go, remove the discharge line from tub of water and allow the water to exit onto the floor or crush pad.  You will notice a “tea like” to “coffee like” colored water will start to exit the discharge line just before the sponge ball exits.  This is true for even any well kept hoses that have not been cleaned in this fashion for over one year.  It is inevitable beyond anyone’s sanitation programs.

16. Recapture the sponge ball and run the ball through again.  It will still clean a bit more on the second and third pass.

17. Once one feels this section of hose has “mechanical cleanliness” one may disconnect that size diameter line from the assembly.

18. Select the proper size sponge ball to clean the next diameter size section of hose near the end of the assembly and repeat the procedure gaining mechanical cleanliness on each diameter size hose working your way up to the largest size line.

19. Once all of the lines are cleaned be sure to swap out the suction side supply line with a cleaned section and run the proper sized sponge ball through that section.

20. Now that mechanical cleanliness is achieved, one may reassemble all of the hoses and start the pump for a circulation.

21. Once the circulation is started in the clean tub of water, one may add a high pH cleaner.  Always dissolve any solid cleaners in water first before adding to a tub of water.  (This will take some trial and error on the operators part to establish just how much may be needed) [Use a pH meter to determine this strength needed].

22. Allow this high pH solution cleaner to circulate for an adequate time.  This may be near 15 minutes depending on the length of hose line, sizes, speed of pump and the amount of water in the circulation tub.

23. Once the operator feels the hoses interiors are well exposed to this higher pH water, the operator may then flush the hoses out with copious amounts of fresh water.

24. After a fresh water rinse one should continue to circulate water and add a low pH cleaner, such as citric acid, to the mixture to insure the high pH water has been neutralized.

25. After this neutralizing step, it is best, once again, to do a fresh water rinse.

26. The hoses should now be clean, but not considered sterile, to the satisfaction of most wineries’ sanitation programs.

27. One may disconnect all the winery hoses and store them properly to drain dry.  Resist rolling hoses up on the floor and laying them flat because water, moisture and insects/rodents may have a better opportunity to become an issue for them.

  When selecting hoses for use at any given time, it is best to make the assembly of the hoses and to flush the hoses or clean them in some fashion just prior to pumping juice or wine.  This will clean out any items from the hoses or pump that should not have been in them.

  Just prior to harvest consider performing this operation on the hoses but perhaps take the step a bit further.  Once the hose lines are cleaned, remove the fittings from the ends of the hoses and either clean them vigorously or cut off the portion of the hose that was in contact with the fitting.  Clean the stainless fittings until they are sparkling and then re-install the fittings and tighten the clamps properly.  (Note: when putting hose clamps on have them pull and installed in opposing directions to get a better tightening grip.  Also, apply the clamps as close to the end of the stainless fitting that is inside the hose line.  If this is not done wine may seep between the fitting and the hose line, especially when ballooning under pressure, and forcing wine between them. Over time, spoilage will occur which will result in a cross-contamination source for every transfer or operation performed with that set of hoses in the future.

Summary

  Set up your hose cleaning operation to be as easy as possible and make sure the cellar staff is keenly aware of your expectations.  Hoses that are not cleaned properly should not be used and instructions to clean them again would be prudent.  Remember, wine is a product that you and others will drink.  Use hoses that are cleaned with the same amount of dignity that you would want your foods and other beverages prepared in.

Helpful Hints:

  Mono type pumps have been known to pass the mentioned sponge balls easily provided the pumps are not smaller than the actual ball diameter used.

  Be sure to keep a watchful eye on the diameter of the sponge ball and the diameter of the wine line you are trying to clean.

  Do not run the pump while dry or damage may occur.

  Use a pH meter to determine the pH of your cleaning solutions.

  Smell your hose before you use them for a wine transfer.

  Look inside your hoses before using.  What do you see?

  Like tanks and other items, don’t let dirt, juice or wine dry on them.  Clean immediately after use (inside and out).

  Always store the hoses so they will drain and dry completely.  Hoses should not be curled up on the floor with potential standing moisture inside them.  Being on the floor also makes them easily available to any winery critters or insects.

  If one has cleaned the winery hoses and removed the fittings, the author recommends a way to test their strength.  Assemble all the hoses together with a valve at the very end of the discharge side.  Circulate fresh water with no chemicals for cleaning.  After about 5 minutes of circulation take the discharge side of the hose from the circulation bucket and start to slowly move the valve toward the closed position for a brief moment.  Be aware at this moment pressure will be building inside the transfer lines and to be clear of any hoses that may pop off their fittings.  Be very careful with this procedure and use common sense knowledge not to shut the valve all the way creating extreme pressure.

Have two people around at all times for safety.

Short Course:

•    Always keep the winery hoses clean.

•    Use a sponge ball to create mechanical

      cleanliness.

•    Visually inspect and smell all hoses after cleaning and before using for wine transfers.

•    Obtain and use all safety gear needed.

  References:  Verbal conversations with Jacques Boissenot, Jacques Recht, Joachim Hollerith and Chris Johnson.