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From the Grapevine

Publish Date: April 30, 2003
Author: Mark Smith


Take a leisurely tour along the red-gravel led driveways of Pipers Brook Vineyard at the moment and it seems that little has changed here since this time last year.

After all, the property’s neatly manicured vines once again have their gold and russet leaves. The season’s casual workforce moves across the landscape just like any other day during vintage, chatting amiably as they snip off the ripened bunches that will become the wine of vintage 2003.

Inside the winery’s tiny lab, it’s business as usual for winemaker Rene Bezemer and assistant winemaker Misha Taylor. Shifts here run 12 hours a day, they explain, and much of that time is spent making plans to deal with the constant stream of fruit that enters the company’s receival bay. In the busiest periods of harvest, that can amount to handling 120 tonnes a day.

Changes to winery infrastructure completed early last year prove a welcome relief to many previous demands on their time, and now offer opportunities to focus on critical events out in the vineyard. Importantly, the improvements have put paid to the periodic logjams that dogged operations in high-cropping vintages.

Surprisingly, the state of the art Bucher press – worth $180,000 and capable of handling up to 45 tonnes of newly fermented wine – isn’t the most valuable recent legacy left by Dr Pirie, ex Senior Winemaker at Pipers Brook. That instead takes up a desktop in the company’s lab, and is called the EzyWine Management System.

It’s a piece of computer software capable of tracking every ounce of fruit through each phase of processing, from crushed juice to new wine.

The system also allows complete control and monitoring of tank and ferment temperatures from a central location.

Cumbersome hand-written journals showing entries of grape varieties, harvest dates and winemaking regime have become a thing of the past, says Rene Bezemer.

“Now, with the click of the mouse we can dial up any tank on the site and ask for a composition report giving details of its vineyard sources, the clones that make up the wine, and even when the material was first planted,” he explains.

“From the composition reports alone we can then go through the details of current and previous processing and establish which of those many parameters are working best for us. We can also see how a particular wine style was created, and use that as a benchmark for the future.”

Pretty smart thinking really – and just what the doctor ordered!


Source: The Examiner

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