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Affecting Innovation in Winemaking

30/08/2017

In an industry where tradition is key, is there room for innovation? Absolutely – and here’s how to make it happen.

Winemaking is steeped in centuries of tradition, from grape selection and growing methods to aging techniques. Even time-honored traditions can be improved with technology, as modern wine brands are discovering. Especially in today’s fast-paced world where the consumer is ever on the hunt for new ways to experience their favorite beverages and interact with brands, innovation is key.

There’s lots of discussion about experimentation and innovation in fields such as craft beer brewing. What many people may not realize is that the world of winemaking is also home to some pretty impressive innovation that is changing the way wine is made, as well as how it finds its way to consumers.

Bringing the Old World into the New

Even well-established wineries like Tuscan mainstay Banfi, founded in 1919, have found a place in their operations for winemaking science and technology that make production easier and the product even better. Hybrid fermentation, for instance, eschews the previous school of thought that fermentation must occur either in stainless steel tanks or oak barrels. Banfi uses patented hybrid tanks that feature a stainless steel cap that allows for ease of cleaning, better temperature control, and pumping over. The tanks also have French oak staves inside to create a more complex wine than would result from fermenting in plain stainless steel.

Unsurprisingly, wineries that are newer (in the grand scheme of things) are also getting in on the innovation game. Napa Winery Vineyard 29 uses gravity to crush their grapes. Instead of utilizing oxygen-driven pumps to lift, fill, and empty tanks in their facility, they use a specially-designed freight elevator to do so. They press their must via a JLB hydraulic press that’s controlled by a computer. They don’t use a pump for racking, relying instead on inert gas which pressurizes the barrel, causing the wine to gently move into the next barrel. Vineyard 29 is proud to employ a combination of Old World tradition and modern technology to create their products.

The common vein that runs between this Old World winery and the Napa newbie? The willingness to experiment with new methods.

Out of the Winery and onto the Web

Innovation in winemaking is about more than inventing new winemaking processes. It’s also about getting creative in strategizing new ways to reach out to customers and make their experience a better one. These days, social media is a huge part of every brand’s customer interaction. 

Even if a winery employed a PR rep full-time to monitor the web and social media channels for discussions about their brand, it’d still be easy to miss out on important commentary from customers. No brand operates in a vacuum, and in today’s world of connected customers, it’s important to not only hear what customers have to say but to respond to those concerns and requests.

That’s where AveroBuzz comes in. The software monitors social media conversations directed at a winery and about their brand. This is helpful in telling the company know what their customers want and what they do and don’t like about the current offerings. AveroBuzz takes the guesswork out of making customers happy. 

The technology initially named VinTank, hit a speed bump in mid-2016 when it was acquired by holding group W20 and briefly shut down. In December of 2016, Avero purchased the technology, renamed it, and announced its re-release, much to the delight of the over 1,200 customers who had been using the platform before it was shuttered.

Anything that streamlines the social media experience is a welcome technology, and AveroBuzz is designed to do exactly that.  

Wine Industry Trade Shows

Technology is an ever-changing wind that blows and it can be tough to remain current when things keep moving along so quickly. Enter the Wine Industry Technology Symposium. Trade shows and conferences are amazing places for beverage entrepreneurs to network, brainstorm, and get inspiration, and this is no exception.

When it comes to the latest in technology solutions for your winery, WITS puts a laser-sharp focus on the latest and greatest in technology, data, information security, and online shopping and payment solutions. For wine professionals involved in winery operations, distribution, sales/marketing, and IT, this symposium is a must. In other words, if you’re in the wine business at all, WITS is for you.

Keep Track of Wine Apps

While AveroBuzz provides a way for wine brands to keep track of customer feedback via social media outlets, there is a slew of apps on which customers post ratings and compare notes on their favorite (and least favorite) wine offerings. Here are a few important apps that can give your winery insight into what customers are saying and how you can change things for the better.

Delectable Deemed “the essential wine app” by James Beard Award-winning Jordan Mackay, Delectable allows users to take a photo of their wine label in order for the app to recognize it and search out ratings. The app allows users to post reviews and make lists of the wines they enjoy. This isn’t just an app for the casual wine drinker, either – it’s also frequented by hard-hitters in the wine world, including wine critics and sommeliers.

Vivino Think Delectable with all of its reviews and ratings, but with the additional ability to search for food pairings, wine lists of various restaurants, and purchase wine for mail delivery or in-person pickup.

Spirit of 21 – With this app, users record notes on tasting, aroma, and their overall thoughts on a wine. Users give medals to the wines they deem the best. Spirit of 21’s purpose is for wine drinkers to “taste and remember” their favorites, and they try to make the interface as simple as possible in order to accommodate this goal. The app also includes a geo-locator that guides users to nearby wineries for a taste.

Both inside and outside of the winery, the possibilities for creativity and innovation are endless. The key to blazing new trails? Observing, listening – both to customers, as well as others in the industry – and being unafraid to try something new.