Wine Grenade Chief Product Officer Hamish Elmslie talks to Wine & Viticulture Journal.
He was asked to give his thoughts on modern winemaking techniques, and how winemakers can truly replicate barrel maturation at volume inside steel tanks.
See below for an excerpt from the publication.
We are very excited to announce that we have appointed an exclusive North American distributor and established a new executive role in the USA as we ramp up production of our micro-ox and data solution.
The distribution deal with Enartis USA gives Wine Grenade immediate access to a sales network selling a complimentary portfolio of winemaking products, analytical services and winery technology throughout North America. Enartis USA is part Esseco Group, a global manufacturer of wine making and enology products.
José Santos, President and CEO of Enartis USA says: “We found in Wine Grenade the perfect partner to complement our offering in micro-oxygenation and better serve small-to-medium sized wineries. We believe that micro-oxygenation is a key technology in modern winemaking, and adding Wine Grenade to our portfolio of micro-ox systems makes it available for wineries of all sizes in a cost effective way”.
Hamish Elmslie, CEO, says “Enartis USA is a highly respected name in winemaking products and lab services, and has also been a leading supplier of micro-oxygenation systems in North America since 2011. As a partner they will provide the scale, market knowledge and on the ground support we need to reach more customers.”
Wine makers in eight countries are now using the Wine Grenade and to support Enartis USA and other international opportunities, Wine Grenade’s Board has also announced an expanded executive team, effective from June.
Co-founder and current CEO Hamish Elmslie will relocate to California as Chief Product Officer. Hamish, who has led the company as CEO since 2014 after a career in banking, will continue as a Director.
Co-founder and director Jonathan Boswell will take on the role of Managing Director, guiding R&D, production and Australasian sales from the company’s Avondale manufacturing base. Jonathan has a background in law and banking and holds a Master of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship from the University of Auckland. He was most recently CEO of Auckland firm TGT Legal.
Brett O’Riley, Chair of Wine Grenade, says “As the company expands overseas we are scaling up the team to pursue our growth strategy while retaining vital product knowledge within the business. Creating a new Chief Product Officer role based in the USA, will help collaboration with our new strategic partner Enartis while putting us in striking distance of key markets in Europe.”
In March Wine Grenade received a $438,000 Callaghan Innovation co-funding grant for product development including capturing the benefits of data and IoT in the winery. Last month, in May, the product was recognised with an INNOVATION + QUALITY Award at IQ 2018, the annual Napa Valley forum for ultra-premium wineries focused on cutting-edge innovations that advance wine quality.
Jonathan Boswell, co-founder, says “Our product has been tested and endorsed by the US wine making industry and now is the time to invest in that market. I’m looking forward to working alongside Hamish and our team as the company enters full production and commercialisation.”
Wine Grenade’s vision is to provide winemakers with the insights they need to consistently make great wine, year after year. In December 2017 it released customer dashboards, providing real-time data about critical device information such as oxygen release rates, tank and cellar temperatures, tank headspace and membrane pressure levels as well as the battery life, wifi signal strength and amount of oxygen remaining.
About Enartis USA
Beginning as the pioneering Vinquiry Wine Laboratory in the early days of the modern US wine industry, Enartis USA is now a leading supplier of premium winemaking products to the North American Wine Industry and provides high-quality analytical services through its network of laboratories.
The ISO 17025:005 Accreditation of our main laboratory in Windsor, CA verifies the high-quality of analytical services that we provide our clients, which range from basic chemistry testing to most recent analytical technologies such as Real Time Quantitative PCR (PCR Panels), oak aroma compounds analysis and grape and wine phenolics analysis (Phenolic Fingerprint), among many others.
In January of 2009, Vinquiry Wine Labs became part of the multi-national company Esseco Group, which manufactures the Enartis range of premium winemaking products. Being part of the world leading manufacturer of winemaking products has allowed us to incorporate advanced technology and develop tailored solutions for the US wine industry. Enartis USA is a leading supplier of winemaking products, with the capabilities to meet the needs of wineries of all sizes. www.enartis.com.
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.
A big thanks to WineBusiness Monthly for featuring us in the April edition. It's an honor to be recognised as an exciting new innovation in the wine industry.
We've been attending Unified Symposium for four years now. In 2018 we had our own booth and we were overwhelmed with the response to our innovative Wine Maturation solution.
Wine Grenade CEO Hamish Elmslie gives a quick rundown on some recent developments in the lead up to Unified Symposium.
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.
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.