Auckland, 24 January 2018 - Wine Grenade, the wine maturation start-up, has recruited technology executive Brett O’Riley to its Board. The appointment of Brett, who also becomes Chairperson, strengthens Wine Grenade’s commercialization capabilities as the company expands into new wine growing territories and leverages data captured during maturation.
Brett has extensive experience in IT, innovation strategy and international business development. Most recently CEO of Auckland’s economic growth agency ATEED for five years, Brett was previously Deputy Chief Executive, Business Innovation and Investments for the Ministry of Science + Innovation, and founding CEO of the NZICT Group (now called NZ Tech) which represents New Zealand’s leading technology companies. He is an experienced technology company director and has also held senior roles during 14 years with companies within the Telecom group (now Spark) including Southern Cross Cable Network.
Brett’s current governance roles include directorships at drone noise cancellation start-up Dotterel Technologies, New Zealand Film Commission, Baseball NZ and Bowls NZ. Brett also works in an advisory capacity to a number of companies including Innovation Capital. A dedicated advocate for technology in education, Brett is a founding member of the Board of Trustees of Manaiakalani Education Trust.
“In order to exploit IoT opportunities in the global wine industry, we need to bring in additional skills, experience and networks. We are fortunate to have Brett’s contribution and knowledge to accelerate our growth at a time when Wine Grenade is rapidly expanding and raising capital to do so, says Hamish Elmslie, CEO.
Wine Grenade commercializes IP from New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research in a connected device which allows winemakers to cost effectively replicate the traditional oak barrel ageing process by delivering precise amounts of oxygen through a permeable membrane - a process known as micro-oxygenation.
The company is also exploring opportunities to capitalise on the unique location of its sensors inside the wine tanks and has just completed Vodafone Xone, a six-month long accelerator for data and IoT start- ups.
“Wine Grenade is leveraging New Zealand’s strengths in horticulture IP and high-tech manufacturing to target an identifiable high value market opportunity. I’m thrilled to be working alongside Hamish, the other founders, and the existing investor group, to make the most of this opportunity,” says Brett.
Founded in 2014, the company is now selling devices to wine makers in eight countries and is building out its distributor network, appointing its first resellers in Chile and Argentina late last year.
Wine Grenade CEO Hamish Elmslie gives a quick rundown on some recent developments in the lead up to Unified Symposium.
For the past 10 years, I have been going to what most of us call “Unified”. Built with the joint input of growers, vintners and allied industry members, the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium is held annually in Sacramento, California and is the largest event of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Over 650 suppliers display their products and services to approximately 14,000 people who attend annually.
Among those thousands of people shaking hands, one of the biggest subjects will certainly be “the fires”: Were you impacted? How much had you harvested when the fires happened? Did you suffer smoke taint? How did you deal with it? Etc. Indeed, one of the conference sessions is titled: “Wildfires and Wine: Loss Prevention, Mitigation and Management”.
Aside from the fires, whether it be on the viticultural, winemaking or retail side, each visitor will be looking for ideas and products, innovations and technical breakthroughs - new ways of doing better and more efficiently their craft.
For the 4th consecutive year, the managers of Wine Grenade will be there too.
If you want to know more about Wine Grenade’s disruptive technology which is democratising micro-oxygenation techniques, please get in touch with Hamish Elmslie at firstname.lastname@example.org and swing by the booth!
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
Vodafone has recognised the potential for Wine Grenade to disrupt the wine maturation industry with internet connected devices by offering a place in the 2017 Vodafone Xone program.
Read the full story on the NBR website.
In the early 1990’s Patrick Ducournau started to develop the winemaking technique we now know as “Micro-Oxygenation”. Working with the Tannat Varietal in the Madiran region in South West France, he was trying to create a new winemaking tool to help soften the tannins of his wines during elevage, or wine aging. Experimental by nature, Ducournau developed the technique from scratch and he and his team were instrumental in its proper implementation and development.
Now well established among old and new world wineries, benefits of micro-ox include improved mouthfeel (body and texture), enhanced color stability, increased oxidative stability, and decreased vegetative aroma.
For those not familiar with micro-ox, I usually start with the metaphor of a fire: Fire must have just the right amount of oxygen to thrive. Too little and the fire dies. Too much – and the fire dies. Same for wine maturation. Same for us human too by the way… Isn’t ageing a slow oxidation of our cells?
As an aside, my passion is ultra-endurance rowing so I understand all too well the importance of oxygen, surely the most underrated fuel for our body. We can live without eating for months, we can live without drinking for days, but we can’t live without oxygen for more than a few minutes. Okay, revenons a nos moutons (let’s come back to our sheep), like we say in France…
Ducournau’s technique was initially thought quite radical because oxygen in wine has long been considered as an enemy, something you didn’t want to mess with for fear of oxidation... To reassure his clients, Ducournau invented the term micro-ox, explaining that only micro-amounts of oxygen is introduced, using specific diffusers sparging tiny micro-bubbles. It’s not oxygenation he said, it’s micro-oxygenation!
Oxygen can be introduced at several moments in the winemaking process. It can be used during fermentation, in order to “feed” the yeasts; during phase 1 (or the Structuration phase), which is the period between AF and ML; or during phase 2 (aka the Harmonization phase). The rates of oxygen addition between phase 1 and phase 2 are a 10x ratio. For instance, if you can go up to 35mg/l/m in phase one, your wine would probably be okay to start with a rate of 3.5mg/l/m in phase 2. Phase 2 is what naturally occurs in barrel aging, with low amounts of oxygen intake occurring through the staves and through the bung.
The key to successful micro-ox is to stay within the wine’s ability to consume oxygen faster than the rate at which it is added to the wine. An innovation that I’m so excited by, I now work for, is The Wine Grenade, a hand held device which releases oxygen through a permeable membrane at a molecular level, rather than the ‘fish tank’ style bubbling technology of diffusers. This membrane-based or ‘nano-oxygenation’ process does not create bubbles and more closely replicates traditional barrel aging in tanks.
So, from micro-ox to nano-ox, the future is here.
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.