Wine Grenade has been recognised with an INNOVATION + QUALITY Award during IQ 2018, an annual Napa Valley forum for ultra-premium wineries focused on cutting-edge innovations that advance wine quality.
IQ2018 takes place in the off season and it’s a great time for wine makers to take stock of their plans for enhancing their business before harvest takes every moment of their waking day.
Just five products were hand selected by the I+Q Advisory Board and the Wine Business Monthly editorial team. Alongside the Wine Grenade are technologies for quickly mixing fermenting musts, improving filtration, measuring in-tank temperature and forecasting irrigation needs.
According to the judges we were selected for our appeal to small to mid-sized wineries, taking an expensive, large-winery process and making it accessible to all.
As Curtis Phillips, senior technical editor at Wine Business Monthly says, "The Wine Grenade is easy to set up, easy to use, and, when combined with the Wine Grenade dashboard app, it gives the winemaker realtime data wherever he/she has access to the Internet. Wine Grenade truly brings micro-oxygenation within the reach of smaller producers."
Recognition by industry experts at the heart of West Coast wine making proves we are being noticed in the right places and for the right reasons. While micro-ox is an established process, we felt that small and medium size wineries – those producing up to 50,000 cases - were missing out on its potential benefits because of cost.
We're very excited to announce that Wine Grenade customers can now visualise what is happening inside their tanks through our web-based dashboards, available on laptop, mobile phone or tablet. These dashboards give winemakers instant access to the data recorded by their micro-oxygenation devices during maturation.
The real time data shows the oxygen release rate, tank and cellar temperature and tank headspace pressure as well as the status of battery and oxygen canister levels. This development represents the first stage in our vision to provide winemakers with the insights they need to make consistently great wine, year after year.
The dashboards are launched as The Wine Grenade expands its presence into eight countries in North and South America, Europe and Australasia, with devices most recently adopted by winemakers in France, Spain, Belgium, Canada and Mexico. The company continues adding to its distributor network, including in South America.
“The dashboard puts the Wine Grenade’s live data into the hands of winemakers on a laptop, mobile device or tablet so they can easily check the status of a device. The dashboards will evolve as more wineries adopt micro-oxygenation and our devices become integral to their winemaking,” says Hamish Elmslie, Wine Grenade CEO and co-founder.
‘Wine Grenades’ allow winemakers to replicate the traditional oak barrel ageing process by delivering precise amounts of oxygen through a permeable membrane - a process known as micro-oxygenation. The Wine Grenade is an Internet of Things (IoT) device which measures data that winemakers use to make decisions.
This piece originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of Wine Business Monthly
Winemakers constantly debate the balance between art and technology. This is more than just the difference between Old World and New World wine production - it’s a fundamental question that every winery needs to address.
I remember visiting local wine fairs in France with my dad, tasting and buying wine by the case. He explained to me the concepts of “terroir” and “millesime”; how each plot of land could produce a distinct wine because of the ground composition, and how each year’s climate made a wine taste different. We would store those cases in our underground cellar and drink them as time passed, which might be weeks, months, or even years. I accepted it as fact that the same wine could taste better some years than others.
To my surprise when moving to the USA, I discovered an entirely different reality. In the ‘New World’, in wine like many consumer products, ‘brand’ is at the forefront, and consumers expect a consistent tasting experience year after year, and in any location. Someone drinking a Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay from 2010 would demand the same taste in 2016, regardless of the weather or the origins of the grapes. The majority of the consumer’s perspective in the USA is very straightforward: “I buy it, I taste it, I like it, I buy it again, I like it, I buy it again....” Most consumers drink these wines within hours or days of purchase, so they count on a predictable flavor.
And winemakers rely on various techniques to control the variables and meet this consumer demand for consistency of quality. It is undeniable that technology has an important part to play in today’s business of winemaking. Throughout the winemaking process, many decisions are made, which each require some risk or innovation.
In the vineyard, do we harvest our own grapes to control quality or source them from different regions in order to work with different profiles?
During fermentation what strains of yeasts, bacteria and enzymes do we use, or how much adjustment to pH and alcohol is advisable? How about decisions regarding saignee, skin contact, pump-overs, micro-oxygenation?
During blending, should different varietals be mixed from within the winery estate or from wines purchased on the bulk market?
During aging, use oak barrels with various toast profiles and origines, or replicate the maturation process with oak alternatives and using micro-oxygenation. How about de-alcoholization?
The appetite for technology adoption in any given winery reflects, at the macro level, that country’s culture and its (old vs new world) approach by producers and consumers. On the micro level, the willingness to innovate reflects the brand and culture of each individual winery. Some wineries trade on being cutting edge and challenging the status quo, while others position themselves as artisanal brands and offer a consumer experience to match this.
There is no right or wrong answer - each winery has to understand its own brand positioning and product strategy. My many years on the road working with wineries of all sizes showed me that these choices reflect the winery’s organizational structure, employee profile and team culture (personality, values and internal hierarchy), investment in winemaking tools, website content, the color of the label, the weight of the bottle, the use of a specific closure, etc.
In the end, the challenge for winemakers, and wineries as a whole, is to remain true to their vision without missing opportunities to innovate. I believe no winery can afford to remain fully artisanal; if the taste profile can vary from year to year, the overall quality of the wine has to remain constant in order to maintain success in a market where the spots on the shelves are highly prized. Some wineries remain partially artisanal in the winemaking process and message but offer a sophisticated customer experience supported by technology, like an online wine club and social media communications.
Whether organizations decide to embrace or resist change, the fact is that the democratization of technology is happening in front of us. When my kids’ PlayStation has more computing power than the early moon launches, we are only a couple of years away from talking to our fridge and having it tell us what to cook - or having our winemaking tank talking to us ...
The point is that democratized technology is cheaper and more accessible for a business of any size. Winery owners, winemakers and wine marketers must now decide their positioning on technology and innovation.
Where do you stand...:
To make an informed choice on technology, winemakers need to:
The point for wineries to note is that their options to apply technology to a range of uses - both winemaking and general business - have really opened up in a short amount of time, all participants should be aware of this, and should decide where they stand.
A great article by Grape Grower and Winemaker on what makes the Wine Grenade so unique and such an exciting product for 21st Century winemakers.
Read "The Bomb for Micro-Oxygenation."
The hype continues to build around Wine Grenade. We've been featured heavily in Wine & Viticulture's latest issue with a focus on micro-oxygenation and on new innovations in the winery.
See below a photocopy of one article from the print magazine.
By Cyril Derreumaux
A winemaker’s job is to make good wine, consistently, year after year. Easier said than done, right? This being said, any winemaker will tell you that it is also about making decisions for the short, medium and long term, but also in resolving unexpected problems, especially during harvest. ;)
This month’s blog covers the various choices available to winemakers regarding wine aging tools and strategies, in order to maximize efficiency and minimize problem solving.
How can the winemaker decide between these choices in order to make the best wine possible with a given budget and target retail price? Regarding the maturation phase, he might decide to go traditional and do 100% barrel aging. Or a mix of barrels and stainless-steel tank with oak alternatives and mox, or oxygen permeable plastic polymer tank with oak staves. The decision will be based on several factors and criteria: the financial priorities of the wineries, brand positioning, sourcing of the grapes, time to market, etc…
Any conversation regarding oxygen delivery systems involved in wine aging cannot be a simple comparison of coopers against coopers, micro-oxygenation suppliers against each other, or a binary opposition between barrels and micro-ox. The conversation should include ALL means of delivering oxygen while maturing wine: barrels, including large wooden vessels/tanks, micro-ox delivery units, permeable tanks made of complex polymers, and even a the basic oxygen tank cylinder with a manual valve, a hose and a sparging stone…
To give you a hand, below are some tips on how to segment wine maturation solutions in order to decide which best suits your needs:
Many different factors will impact a winemaker’s decision to invest in new equipment for their winery. Obviously, the benefits of any investment need to outweigh the costs.
At Wine Grenade we’ve built our business around allowing the winemaker to achieve all of the following:
To summarize, here is how the Wine Grenade is positioned along those parameters mentioned above:
We love talking about this stuff, so get in touch, and we'll see if Wine Grenade can help improve your winemaking operation.
Cyril Derreumaux - email@example.com
About Wine Grenade
Wine Grenade is wine maturation, redefined. This blog will keep you up to date with our business and provide some thoughtful commentary on the art of winemaking.