5 named Northern California wine business innovators: ConeTech, Enartis, GOfermentor, InnoVint, M.A. Silva USA
Innovation often happens when a new or growing problem needs to be addressed, but sometimes it happens just because someone brings a new perspective and imagination to the industry.
In many cases, the innovations build on existing technologies by adapting them into a new context, and however simple they may seem once accomplished, they required daring, vision, and determination to achieve and the wine industry as a whole is better off for having these innovative companies in their ranks. They represent the vanguard of product and service innovation that is essential for the advancement and prosperity of the industry.
Wine Industry Network has provided this information about its eighth annual WINnovation Awards for excellence in wine industry innovation.
In recent years, California wines have been at an increased risk of smoke exposure from wildfires, a prospect that can destroy an entire season if the winery’s wine or grapes are tainted, and can be a massive financial loss.
In response, ConeTech developed a proprietary smoke taint removal process that built on the application of its existing spinning cone technology, and layered on new lab research and methodology to effectively target both the free and glycosidically bound smoke compounds without destroying the wine.
The two-step process begins with ConeTech’s vacuum distillation, which separates the lighter and more delicate essence compounds and leaves the heavy smoke compounds in the wine. Then the wine is tested for over 30 smoke taint compound markers to accurately identify the concentration of the compounds that cause smoke taint and allow for a targeted removal. Once the smoke compounds are removed, the preserved essence is returned to the treated wine, restoring its quality and value.
“The lack of good solutions to deal with smoke tainted wine has quelled the conversation, but with the recent rise in California wildfires, it is a conversation that we can no longer afford to avoid,” says George Christie, president and founder of the Wine Industry Network. “ConeTech deserves great praise for taking on this tough challenge with rigorous scientific research and an innovative adaptation of their spinning cone technology to help winemakers whose wines have been exposed restore quality and value to their wines.”
ConeTech launched this new process in November 2018, and is on track to have restored value to nearly one million gallons of smoke tainted wine using this process.
BluVite was developed in Europe by BluAgri in response to extreme heat events that caused vines in France and Italy to suffer. With the prospect of climate change making these events increasingly likely, they knew they needed to make the root systems more robust and resilient to diverse conditions. Their solution was to improve the efficacy of the microbiome of the soil and make it more sustainable.
BluVite is a biofertilizer comprised of peptides and minerals that works by restoring the soil’s microbiological fertility, without inoculating external microorganisms, but by stimulating microbes already present in the soil. BluVite helps nutrients become more available to the root system, thereby strengthening it and resulting in a healthier vine.
Enartis USA began trialing it in the U.S. in 2018 and has already helped several large growers in California see significant improvement in the health and resistance of their vines when exposed to severe environmental impacts. Looking to the future, tools like BluVite will be essential to help the wine industry safeguard against climate change’s effects on viticulture.