Things have been very exciting up here at the Monte Bello winery; just days before harvest is due to commence, the finishing touches on a ten-year labor of love are being applied.
Eric Baugher, our VP of winemaking here at Monte Bello, has been working around the clock to help bring this immense project to fruition, as have an astonishingly devoted cadre of dedicated workers.
Eric has written the following about the new Grape Sorting system:
Starting with the 2009 vintage, we will inaugurate a new grape-sorting system at our Monte Bello winery. We launched the renovation this last June, after ten years in development, thousands of research and engineering hours, and several revisions along the way. Our original plan was to install a conveyor belt receiver to gently deliver grape clusters directly to the destemmer. That plan would have allowed for additional sorting as the fruit arrived. The new design will do that, but goes further, with post-destemming sorting. As grapes and stems are separated and pass through the open rollers, the whole berries will travel across a series of conveyors, shaker tables, and an automated sorter. Stem fragments, called “jacks”, green shot berries, and sun-damaged grapes will be removed from the stream of fruit on its way to the fermentor. This new facility and equipment will further implement our philosophy of gentle handling.
One of the things that I am particularly impressed with is the extent to which Ridge is willing to slow down for the sake of quality, and efficiency. Again, from Eric:
Although the new equipment operates at a slower rate than the machinery it replaces, quality gain makes the project worthwhile. Efficiency and quality outcome are not mutually exclusive; the new machinery and special LED lighting will consume half as much energy as the previous equipment.
Thanks to the efforts of one Sean Yamamoto (our Marketing and Sales Coordinator, and the taker of these wonderful photographs!), you can now keep tabs on how this new and exciting project is developing. To read more about Eric’s thoughts, and to see more photos, please click here.