Temperature control equipment improved for U.S. winemakers

[caption id="attachment_26640" align="alignright" width="346" caption="Pablo Ventura, an Argentine VinWizard partner, shows Finca Sophenia winemaker Matias Michenline the technology."][/caption]

SANTA ROSA – VinWizard, the tank temperature control system developed by New Zealand-based Wine Technology, is making a second pass at the U.S. market.

Its Santa Rosa Wine Technology America (WTA) has partnered with Engineered Mechanical Systems in Healdsburg to help bring the automated, energy-saving solution to the attention of the local wine industry.

Originally brought to the area in the mid-1990s, VinWizard’s software was perceived as a bit too complex and difficult to use by winemakers at that time, according to WTA President Bob Richards.

“We spent 15 years reengineering the product to fit into the complete wine making process, interfacing and acting as the brain of winery automation,” said Mr. Richards.

“We’ve also designed it to sit on top of PLC [Programmable Logic Controller] systems already in place, so wineries don’t have to replace expensive legacy systems,” he said.

The solution is the only automated temperature control system developed by and for winemakers alone, he said.

“Most solutions also can be applied to other industries. They’re tweaked to meet the needs of winemakers but weren’t developed with them solely in mind.”

His company realized early on that if it was to serve only one industry it would have to do so worldwide. That’s why VinWizards are in use in Europe, South America, Canada, Africa and now, increasingly, in the U.S.

WTA has several winery clients in California, and Mr. Richards is hopeful the economic climate in the U.S. will convince wineries that it’s time to invest in energy-saving technology.

The group has been instrumental in working with facilities like British Columbia’s first LEED-certified winery and one of the world’s few Carbon-Zero-certified sites in the Southern Hemisphere. The VinWizard system can achieve refrigeration power savings of 20 percent to 50 percent, according to Mr. Richards.

The software integrates with any aspect of a winery operation with tank temperature control at the core. It uses control logic to drive the refrigeration plant in accordance with wine status, seasonal climate variations and user-definable trigger points.

The partnership with winery equipment supplier Engineered Mechanical Systems came about because owner Rob Dehoney has worked with PG&E in the past to obtain rebates on energy retrofits.

“His knowledge of energy saving and the local utilities combined with his wide contacts among wineries and winemakers make him the ideal partner for WTA here in the U.S.," said Mr. Richards.

For more information visit www.vinwizard.com.