Louis Pasteur said that 'wine is the most hygienic of beverages'. Never has this been more true than in the 21st century. Fresh technologies added to age-old methods of wine making are providing more precise processes, for a more consistent and certain wine output.
One company that is driving modern winery techniques is Martella Refrigeration, based in New Zealand's premier Blenheim-Marlborough wine growing region. Martella's is a refrigeration and process engineering operation serving many of the key wineries in the region.
Martella Refrigeration- operated by father and son team Allan and Bryan Martella - chooses the reliability of German engineered fluid control components when designing winery systems, with technologies and products from Bürkert Fluid Control Systems.
"Our work with local wineries is largely based on the temperature control side," says winery & refrigeration controls engineer Bryan Martella.
"Winery temperature systems with exact control characteristics, generally with glycol agents, are key to making quality wines. However the process can be quite demanding due to external factors such as temperature and weather conditions, as well as the continuous recycling of glycol which can result in contaminated glycol flows.
"Our aim at all times is to improve production efficiency for customers, whilst achieving quality standards that give a real edge when their wines are marketed domestically as well as overseas. Quality opens doors to exports," said Mr Martella, whose company serves wineries with production varying from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand tonnes of grapes per annum.
"We started working with Bürkert about five years ago, and the difference in the quality was immediately apparent. With Bürkert products we see a considerable difference in the level of ruggedness and reliability. Whereas previously we were continuously unblocking and replacing glycol valves, the new Bürkert Type 2000's were trouble-free from the start," says Mr Martella.
An additional benefit of working with Bürkert New Zealand is the company's single-supplier capability. Bürkert has supplied Martella Refrigeration with process, solenoid and pilot valves, pneumatic actuators and customised instrumentation, as well as accessories including fittings and air tubing.
"It is convenient to deal with only one supplier to purchase all products and accessories - particularly with Bürkert, since their high level of service and partnership means we can rely on them to work together with us to sort out with any immediate needs and any issues we face," says Mr Martella.
"We have been progressively moving our customers over to Bürkert, expanding our relationship over the past few years to involve thousands of pneumatic actuators, process valves and electronics solenoid valves annually."
Martella Refrigeration uses Type 2000 process valves, preferring the unit for its ease of operation and toughness in the face of demanding weather conditions and challenging media flow. The Type 2000 is ideal for winery use, where it has been shown to operate for years without requiring service.
Bürkert's Type 2000 process valve has high flow characteristics, and is designed for high pressures to 16 bar. Waterhammer free, the valve is very cost efficient due to low air consumption, and is available stainless steel and gun metal body.
Supported by regional and global R&D houses, Bürkert Fluid Control Systems has an engineering centre in Auckland with the in-house expertise to undertake customisation jobs such as recently brought by Martella Refrigeration.
"Martella's are very proactive in developing new solutions for wineries and their Blenheim location and refrigeration expertise has been the perfect fit for us to capitalise on the high growth that has occurred in this region and market ," says Mr Brian McMath, General Manager of Bürkert New Zealand.
"A recent concept was the portable glycol flow sensor, to monitor glycol flow to wine tanks. Our engineers worked with Bryan Martella to customise a Type 8032 Flow Sensor switch powered by a battery pack, for easy on site flow measurement," he says.
The compact 4-20mA Type 8032 Flow Sensor paddle-wheel switch with display is designed for use in clear, neutral and aggressive fluids. The display can be locally or wall-mounted, and the entire unit easily fitted to piping with a quarter-turn connection. The 8032 is a modular instrument, built to work independently or in combination with valves and pneumatics.
This simple device demonstrated that many glycol lines were oversized, enabling an immediate and considerable cost efficiency for customer wineries as glycol flow was optimised.
This level of partnership by a supplier organisation has provided invaluable assistance to Martella Refrigeration, with Bryan Martella adding that "with Bürkert you know they will take the extra step to make sure you get the best solution, on time."
With increasing price-pressure and a tough world wine market, Mr Martella says that more than ever wineries need to ensure optimum production and avoid batch contamination and loss.
"Whether large or small, wineries are now very particular to ensure they have quality processes and control devices - after all, losing an entire batch to a faulty valve just isn't worth it," he says. "While cost is always a factor, quality and service are a necessity.
"Our relationship with Bürkert has answered both of these vital and decisive aspects."
The Marlborough wine region, in the northern reaches of the South Island, is home to more than half of New Zealand's wine production. Sauvignon Blanc is the pre-eminent wine of the region, with Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, and smaller amounts of Sparkling, Merlot, Gewurztraminer and Late Harvest wines also produced.
With a global network spanning offices in more than 40 countries, and operational outposts in an additional 80, Bürkert Fluid Control Systems is an established and mature global organisation celebrating its 25th year in Australia and New Zealand in 2005, and its global 60th Anniversary in 2006.