Acquiring new winery equipment to enhance production and reduce labor costs is pretty much every winery owner’s dream. For small wineries, even tiny improvements can mean an enormous boost in productivity.

Says Sante Arcangeli Family Wines owner, John Benedetti, “I’m still doing things in a very manual way. Our ‘big leap’ into the modern era was buying a forklift/bin dumper, so we don’t have to load the press after red fermentations with a five-gallon bucket. I also ditched our hand corker for a pneumatic one with a foot switch so my assistant winemaker wouldn’t kill me.”

Winemaker Olivia Teutchel of Bargetto Winery in Santa Cruz, Calif., recently added a Vega 10 crusher/destemmer with custom incline from Carlsen and Associates. “The whole crew was tickled pink every time we turned this thing on. There’s nothing like shiny new toys to get your cellar crew excited about harvest!”

Winemaker Charlie Kidd at Cooper Ridge in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley, who also handles production at the Southern Oregon Wine Institute (SOWI), recently installed post-destemmer roller sorters. Says Kidd, “This removes the need for sorting tables and staff. You can add it to any existing standard destemmer.”

By hard-plumbing tanks for Pulsair, he can add bursts of oxygen to ferments, resulting in cleaner, non-reductive wines and replace punch downs with a handheld rod inserted into the bin. At SOWI, Kidd has a Pellenc destemmer with a shaker system that removes whole berries from the rachis, while removing MOG.

Collin Cranor and Alex Wolfe of Nottingham Cellars in Livermore, Calif., acquired an Armbruster Rotovib optical sorter from Scott Labs with a new decline feed that eliminates the need for an elevator. Says Cranor, “I’m cruising at about 6 to 8 tons per hour and doing a better job of sorting and gentler fruit handling than I did with my old sorting tables at 2 tons per hour. Now I only have two pieces of equipment to set up/breakdown and one operator versus four pieces of equipment, eight people sorting and one person feeding. It also covers about one-fifth the floor space.”

Drew Baker of Old Westminster Winery in Maryland has expanded custom crush capacity to 15,000 cases, adding a new Europress, additional tanks to accelerate fruit processing and a new must pump that came in handy when going direct to press with rosé after cold soaking.

Greg Graziano of Graziano Family of Wines in California’s Mendocino County says, “To make lighter, crisper and more salmon-colored rosés, we no longer use the saignée method and instead are using the direct-to-press method.”

Joe Shebl of Renwood Winery in the Sierra Foothills scored a bonus when a counterpart Napa winery wanted to replace six concrete Numblot tanks with wooden ones for space savings. Shebl was excited to ferment several high-end single vineyard lots of Zin and Barbera in both concrete and steel. “The freshness and minerality from the concrete is absolutely remarkable! It just gives us more options for achieving excellence,” he says.

In 2016, Ryan Beauregard in Bonny Doon, Calif., purchased his first-ever French egg as an alternative to the stainless tanks he’s been using for Chardonnay. He’s sufficiently over the moon about this first ferment and planning to purchase more. “Super creamy mouthfeel with freshness of fruit,” he raves.

Winemaker Paul Clifton of Hahn Family Wines in Monterey also wants a Pellenc sorter. “For our high-end wines, we’re currently hand sorting on a conveyor. I think we could reduce the number of hands needed with this new destemmer.”

May all your production dreams come true for harvest 2017!