January 2008 Issue of Wines & Vines

Coming Soon

Innovations in equipment and packaging spotted at SIMEI

by Jim Gordon
The main reason to go to the big Italian wine equipment and supplies expo, SIMEI, every other November is to get an advance look at the winemaking and grapegrowing technology that will soon be available in North America. A great number of the machinery manufacturers are based in northern Italy, or nearby Germany, so it's only natural that this is the most comprehensive such show in the world.

Wines & Vines combed the giant trade fair Nov. 13-17 in Rho, just outside Milan, looking for new and improved products of interest to our North American readers. Here are just a few examples of what we found.

Lab Equipment

Millipore BeviStat Detects Yeast and Mold in 10 Minutes
What: Rapid microbiology detection system
Uses: Find yeast, brettanomyces/dekkera, etc.
Cost: $140,000 estimated
Manufacturer: Millipore
Distributor: Gusmer Enterprises

SIMEI 2007 Review
The Millipore BeviStat may be too pricey for small producers, but commercial labs and large operations may find it a worthwhile investment, able to detect yeast and mold in 10 minutes.
Not many boutique wineries will make the capital investment in this new and fast technology for detecting yeast and mold, but Millipore hopes the enology labs that consult for them will, along with the larger production facilities. Andrew Blackwell of Massachusetts-based Millipore said big customers will find it useful for a high volume of tests, but smaller customers might find it more valuable since one contaminated lot of wine represents a comparatively larger risk for them.

The 250-pound BeviStat system can produce a pass-fail result on yeast and mold in about 10 minutes, while standard microbiology testing can take three to seven days. It can help prevent spoilage of wine, check the sanitation of rinse water after clean in place processes and shorten the time to market. The system uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) bioluminscence technology to detect as little as one cell per sample, regardless of the size of the sample.

The operator pours a sample of liquid through a presterilized Beviflex HV filtration funnel, then removes the membrane device and inserts it in the BeviStat. The operator uses a touch screen to select the test process. It can be used before and after final filtration as quality control on the filtration process. BeviStat can also be used to detect spores and bacteria after an incubation period.

Lab Equipment

Gibertini Nucleo Counter Measures Yeast Cells Fast
What: Fluroescence Microscope
Uses: Precise counting of non-viable and total yeast cells
Cost: $20,000 estimated
Manufacturer: Gibertini
Distributor: H-B Instrument

SIMEI 2007 Review
Gibertini's Nucleo Counter, a fluorescent microscope to count total and non-viable yeast cells in less than a minute, may be a valuable fermentation tracking tool.
This $20,000 fluorescence microscope counts total and non-viable yeast cells in less than a minute. It may be a valuable tool for tracking the process of fermentation, determining the presence of wild yeast and helping to avoid stuck fermentations. Yeast cell counts by current culturing methods can take two to three days, but with this Italian-made technology winemakers can have nearly instant feedback. Hektor Preza of Gibertini thinks it will be especially useful to sparkling wine producers.

He said the winemaker or lab tech prepares a diluted sample of must or wine, adds 1 nanoliter to a disposable cassette containing a fluorescent marker agent, propridium iodide, that dissolves in the must and dyes the DNA of the yeast. One then inserts the cassette into the Nucleo Counter, which counts the cells and displays the results on a small screen. Alternately, it can also send the results to your computer via a USB cable. The software package for the Nucleo counter costs an additional $1,500.

The fluorescent dye stains the DNA of cells with non-intact cell membranes (non-viable cells). Living cells have intact membranes and reject the dye, preventing it from reaching the DNA. So the first test counts the non-viable cells, giving results in a range of 5 x 10(3) to 2 x 10(6) cells/ml. If the winemaker also wants a total yeast cell count, one then adds a compound to kill the viable cells, and the count is repeated. The difference in the count is the viability of the sample.

Sophisticated Screwcaps

Alcan Stelvin Lux Is a Smooth Twist-Off
What: Screwcap closure that hides threads
Uses: Adds high-quality appearance
Cost: About twice the standard screwcap
Manufacturer: Alcan Packaging
Distributor: Alcan Packaging

SIMEI 2007 Review
Alcan's Stelvin Lux disguises its screwcap under a sleek new covering.
Alcan's Stelvin Lux takes the screwcap to a more luxurious level by hiding the screw threads and smoothing over two other telltale features of the standard Stelvin cap. Wineries have experimented with it for a couple of years. The Lux and Lux + models fit the same bottles as standard Stelvin. Liner options include Saranex and saran/tin.

A sophisticated plastic insert and inner liner make a tight seal without showing on the outside. The Lux maintains the same outer diameter from top to bottom of the 30mm x 60mm closure, and doesn't have the usual wrap-around indentation near the very top, making a smooth "corner" transition.

The Lux + model and the Stelvin + have more decoration options including embossing and printing, than the standard models. Lux + can match almost any color of tin, providing continuity in appearance for wineries switching to screwcaps for the first time. Provenance in Napa Valley may be the most prominent new user of the Lux cap, but other U.S. wineries including La Crema, Turnbull and DeLoach are trying it, too. For now only one West Coast mobile bottler, SLO Bottling, has the right equipment for the Lux.

Sophisticated Screwcaps

Guala GlobalCap WAK Has Traditional Look
What: Screwtop closure that hides thread
Uses: Gives upscale look to higher-priced wines
Cost: About twice the standard screwcap
Manufacturer: Guala Closures Group
Distributor: GlobalCap North America

SIMEI 2007 Review
GlobalCap's WAK is another deceptively traditional screwcap closure, and will soon be readily available in the U.S.
While not brand-new, the GlobalCap WAK, or "wine aluminum keeper," will only start to be readily available in North America this year, said Alessandro Bocchio of the Guala Closures Group. This 31.6mm x 59.5mm screwcap provides the same TCA prevention and on-off ease of traditional screwcaps, but it just doesn't look as much like a screwcap. Bocchio said that consumers recognize screwcaps for superior quality but don't fully accept their appearance. The WAK closure nearly replicates the famous shape of the cork and capsule and hides any indication of thread.

The thread is inserted into a long aluminium shell (first screwed on the bottle neck finish and then tucked under a standard BVS neck ring). Saranex and tinfoil liner are suitable for this application. A new capping head is needed on the bottling line to use the WAK. Seghesio in California is one of the few domestic wineries already using the product.

Mechanical Harvester

New to U.S.: ERO Grapeliner
What: Self-propelled harvester with custom features
Uses: Fast between jobs, large onboard tank, sophisticated destemmer
Cost: $278,000
Manufacturer: ERO
Distributor: H&W in Ontario; Clemens in California

SIMEI 2007 Review
Germany's favorite mechanical harvester, the ERO Grapeliner, removes grapes gently and has proven itself in rugged terrain.
The No. 1-selling mechanical harvester in Germany has yet to be sold in the United States, but two units are now in use in Canada. Considering that the small company only makes 25 harvesters a year, that's a fast start here. ERO's photos of the self-propelled Grapeliner SF 200 chugging up steep rows at Schloss Johannisberg in the Rheingau might suggest to American growers with high-quality hillside vineyards that it can handle their rugged terrain as well.

New at Enovitis was the ERO Grapeliner with an elevator conveyor and 1,200L tipping grape tank. The tank enables the harvester to proceed down rows without a grape gondola accompanying, but tip its load instead at row ends. A large destemmer enables it to work slowly and gently to remove grapes from stalks, said Michael Erbach, ERO sales director. And, appropriately for the land of the autobahn, this baby does a fast 25mph on the road to reduce down time between jobs.

SIMEI 2007 Review
Surely some enterprising marketing director will imagine the benefit of wrapping photos or bright solid colors around the otherwise plain stainless steel tanks that visitors see on their way through the winery. Albrigi Technologie of Verona, Italy, showed both approaches at SIMEI. The photo or color desired by the customer is transferred to a large sheet of film, and Albrigie wraps the sheet around its tank. Distributed by Cellar Tek in Kelowna, B.C.

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