New winery tool helps prevent problem ferments
The Ferment Simulator Tool, created by the AWRI and funded by the GWRDC, was officially released for all Australian wine grape levy payers in late 2013.
The AWRI’s project leader Richard Muhlack (former AWRI Riverina Node manager and now lecturer in Wine Science at the University of Adelaide) said a fermentation trajectory can be tracked or even a pre-fermentation strategy modelled in advance to assess its potential outcome.
The simulator will also raise an alert if a ferment is heading off track and multiple ferments can be monitored via a ‘traffic light’ display.
The tool’s usefulness has exceeded even the AWRI’s expectations, Dr Muhlack said.
‘The simulator is more extensive than we originally conceived at the beginning of the project, as it is now a tool that has the potential to be used to report on ferment status, energy consumption and refrigeration demand across an entire tank farm, rather than just for a single ferment’, he said.
‘Temperature adjustments, tank agitation or additions of nutrients can all be assessed in this way.’
The tool also allows for the tracking of winery refrigeration loads, allowing refrigeration demand to be predicted for hot weather in order to minimise electricity use during peak tariff periods.
Extensively trialled over the past three vintages, the simulator is available in ‘full’ and ‘lite’ versions.
‘In a business environment where producers are under pressure to improve their resource efficiency and reduce operating costs, this tool will assist in targeting operations to mitigate issues associated with problem ferments and to give early warning of energy demand spikes that may be associated with punitive demand tariffs imposed by electricity providers’, he said.
The ferment simulator has been successfully tested on white and red ferments across several vintages and regions, and a recent GWRDC-funded expansion will see it incorporate functionality for cool climate and wild ferments.
‘There is certainly scope for new features – such as the ability to interface directly with sensors and instrumentation in the winery, or to provide a web/mobile interface – and so I would be hopeful of opportunities for the tool to be developed further in these areas’, he said.
To download the ferment simulator, levy payers need to sign in to the AWRI website.
People who don’t have a log-in can register for one here.
Otherwise, for any queries about website access contact AWRI for help.