Modern Technology in Viticulture

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© Pixabay, User: onkelramirez1

From the cultivation and upkeep of vines, to harvesting and processing, right through to the bottling and storage of wine—there is still a great deal of manual work involved in viticulture and wine production today. But even here technology is being put to use, increasing the efficiency of processes and saving time. Numerous exhibitors will be attending SIMEI@drinktec in Munich, from September 11 to 15, where they will be presenting various technical innovations for process automation and demonstrating their potential in all areas of viticulture and wine production.  

In order to remain competitive today, wine producers also need to optimize and automate their production line. The reasoning behind the introduction of new technology in viticulture and wine production remain the same today as they have always been namely, to help processes run more smoothly and safely, as well as saving on manpower and time, while incurring fewer costs if possible.

Optimization along the Production Line

Today, automated production has a significant role to play as soon as the grapes arrive at the wine pressing facilities. The goal is to process the harvested bunches of grapes as quickly, yet as carefully, as possible. The first step is to sort the bunches of grapes based on quality; a task for which there is now a wide range of optimized machines and sensor-controlled sorting devices available.

After this, particularly for white wine, the grapes themselves are then carefully separated from the stalks and stems (machine suppliers have developed special de-stemming machines for this) before the sometimes hard-shelled grapes can be further processed in powerful wine presses and the juice extracted. Instead of archaic wooden wine presses, today, modern membrane presses are used for this crucial stage in the wine production process. One well-known manufacturer of this type of press system is the French company Bucher Vaslin SA, who will also be exhibiting at drinktec in Munich in September 2017.

Depending on the requirements of the upcoming harvest, there are various press systems available: From traditional, yet fully automated, basket presses through to horizontal presses, which enable the grapes to be coated with inert gas and providing protection against unwanted oxidation. From sensitive pump and transport systems through to wine presses that only use natural gravitational force to move the grapes or musts, there are a myriad of systems available to today’s wine producers.

 Process Automation in Cellar Management

Removing unwanted microorganisms and residues of grapes and stalks from the extracted musts is another important stage of wine production. Coarse particles can be removed using rotating filters. Filters and cross-flow filters deployed at a later stage, such as those from drinktec exhibitor Strassburger from Westhofen in Rhine-Hesse, enable optimal purification of the musts before the actual process of vinification begins with the start of fermentation. In wine production, the various stages overlap, meaning continuous monitoring of the overall process chain is required. For this reason, having sophisticated sensor-controlled process automation in place is an unavoidable challenge in cellar management—from pressing the musts, to controlling the fermentation process, through to the storage of new wines—which is often only effectively managed through the use of the latest technology. Extensive documentation is required to ensure all working steps are recorded and there is a wide range of efficient IT-supported systems available to handle this.

SIMEI@drinktec: The International Meeting Point for Vintners and Wine Producers

From viticulture through to marketing: new technology in wine production is a central theme at drinktec in Munich. SIMEI, organized by the Unione Italiana Vini (UIV), will be part of drinktec for the first time in 2017, making the perfect addition to the wine technology product portfolio in two additional halls. As such, SIMEI@drinktec is the industry meeting point for vintners and wine producers. The SIMEI Innovation Challenge will recognize outstanding innovations and technical creativity in viticulture and wine production with the coveted Lucio Mastroberardino Innovation Award. There will also be a range of workshops and presentations held in the SIMEI Knowledge & Innovation Area, offering visitors the chance to find out everything they need to know about the wine industry.

Issues relating to process automation that are set to impact on the wine industry in the future will be discussed in the drinktec Forum. The offering for vintners and wine producers is rounded off with the Innovation Flow Lounge, the contact point for sales and marketing. Here, renowned experts will be discussing solutions and strategies for production, packaging and marketing.

Dr. Hermann Pilz

Dr. Hermann Pilz has been in charge of the trade magazine WEINWIRTSCHAFT as chief editor for over 20 years. He loves writing about many different topics of the wine and spirits industry.