The Benefits of Automation in the Wine Cellar

Fermentation and maturation are the first transformative processes that the grapes undergo when they first arrive in the cellar after the harvest. These are delicate moments, as the yeasts act on the fruit and activate the relevant chemical processes. On the one hand, they transform the sugars into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide, and on the other, they lead to the extraction of substances that will determine the aromas of the wines.

To allow the yeasts to do their work in ideal conditions, it is very important to ensure that every detail is kept under control. Some of the most important aspects include the temperature, the levels of oxygenation and the periodic “punching down”. At our new winemaking cellar in Brolio, we can achieve a maximum level of efficiency in our processes thanks to a control room and customized and perfected software that can activate the necessary functions in the conical steel vats.

During the fermentation phase, the temperature must be kept under control, ensuring that it remains around 23° C-24° C. An excessive increase in temperature can lead to so-called “tumultuous” fermentation, resulting in a loss of aroma. The software is essential because it sets the refrigeration of the vats daily, to maintain the ideal temperature for the yeasts to do their work. The oxygenation in the tanks also helps establish the level of yeast and must be controlled at this stage in the process. The amount of oxygen required is set by the software and automatically fed into the vats. At Brolio, the process of punching down is carried out automatically every day. This involves exerting pressure on the marc (the skins and seeds) on the surface, the so-called “cap”, to immerse them in the must again and ensure they remain in contact with it to activate the yeasts. The number can vary based on the data collected and analyzed by the management software: the greater the amount of sugar, the more punching down required.

Based on precise data analysis, the management of each single vat in the cellar can now be customized, so that each produces the best possible result.