For this Production-themed issue, I asked winemakers: “What’s the most important piece of equipment you’ve added to your winery recently?”
Paul Clifton, Hahn Family Wines (Soledad, Calif.) points to his 812 LG Electronics panels, a 290kW system put in by Bright Future Solar (Salinas, Calif.), along with his Optimum 890 Pellenc Select harvester.
Ryan Stirm, Stirm Wine Co. (Aromas, Calif.) says he got a Speedaire air compressor off Craigslist for $600 (they’re $6,000 new). “It’s basically a beast, super quiet, and can run all my pumps all day long, all at once. The most valuable, by far in terms of dollar value, are my old redwood fermenters. I don’t know who made those.”
Randy Schock, Handley Cellars (Philo, Calif.) says, “We replaced our old boiler with an on-demand hot water system from Rinnai.” He praises its efficiency and lack of exhaust. “I’m looking forward to seeing large decreases in our propane bill this year.” He wants a small cross-flow filter and a barrel dry steamer (from Aaqua Tools) because, “I’m concerned about the impact on my workers from exposure to ozone. I also think it’s better for sanitation—and I’d enjoy the water savings.”
Jim Schultz, Windy Oaks Winery (Corralitos, Calif.) points to his vineyard heat treatment machine by AgroThermal Systems. “We actually had a block this past season where we did no sprays whatsoever. It’s now in barrel and has amazing aromas and flavors.” He also loves his 600L fully enclosed barrel fermenters, made by Tonnellerie Sylvain in Bordeaux.
Chris Graves, Naumes Crush & Fermentation (Medford, Ore.) says, “Our single-head screwcapper TSM-2005 by Prospero lets me manually bottle screwcaps in-house for samples and small projects.” He also loves SpaceKraft totes—thick, corrugated cardboard boxes that hold an oxygen-impermeable bladder. “They’re incredibly useful for storing and shipping bulk wines, and odd-size batches or projects where variable capacity is required. The bladder shrinks as you drain it so there’s no need to top. The first time I used them for bulk, I didn’t get to them for nearly four months, and in that time the free SO2 didn’t move a single part. And measured O2 didn’t go up at all. These are a game-changer for me, and I want every winemaker to know they exist.”
Jesse Katz, Devil Proof Vineyards and Aperture Cellars (Healdsburg, Calif.) says his two biggest game changers are an optical sorter from Weco and a totally custom automatic pumpover system run from a mobile device. Each tank houses a computer, pump, and air injection system for a fully enclosed fermentation vessel. “When we were evacuated during the Kincade fire, I was able to still pump over from my father’s apartment in San Francisco. We didn’t miss a beat during that crazy time.”
Molly Hill, Sequoia Grove Winery (Napa, Calif.), also praises the auto-pumpover tanks, (Burgstahler in St. Helena, Calif., and RTI in Middletown, Calif.) in her brand new winery (2018) for giving her freedom to treat each fermentation individually during the wackiness of harvest. “It helps us maintain integrity and quality: of paramount importance.”