By Patrick Baker
After all the harvest scheduling, logistics, and chaos come to completion with fruit nice and safely tucked into the nooks and crannies of wineries, the real winemaking magic happens.
If you were in or near the California wildfires this season as we were, our hat’s off to you. The business of winemaking has been made even more dangerous and in some instances disastrous than any other year in recent memory. Like many, we were working to support our customers remotely as our office and homes were evacuated.
Most of us involved in the day‐to‐day winemaking process recognize now as the critical time to focus, skills honed, on the winemaking “season”. All the logistics, pre‐planning for barrels, equipment and perhaps some technical experimentation are in action and full throttle. It’s a little daunting and there are still many risks at hand, namely; equipment failures, stuck fermentations, supply shortages, staff scheduling and a host of other potentials. You’re expecting some of these because you used last year’s team wrap up meeting to mitigate in prep for this year.
I’m guessing few of us were expecting wildfires and natural disaster declarations, so our wrap up meetings this year will definitely include some not so often discussed topics.
I’m a big fan of a full team meeting around the conclusion of the last pressings/barrel down, to
brainstorm what went right, what broke or needs attention before use again. It’s a time for everyone’s ego to be checked at the door so we can get a full candid report. This meeting usually precludes a sigh of relief as we near the holiday season and enjoy a brief respite before the new year and new growing season. This conclusionary meeting also provides a backdrop for winemaking and senior staff to consider what makes the cut for a potential shopping list for the next Unified Wine & Grape Show at the end of January annually.
As a winery GM I’ve always sorted the winery shopping list into two categories; things that make better wine, and things that improve efficiency and/or safety. It’s a balance to be sure, and with limited dollars I tend to research the heck out of options before I enter the tradeshow floor in January. The recent wildfires in California and past natural disasters (read, earthquakes) are an excellent reminder for emergency contingency planning to make the list. Grapes, wines and the winemaking season don’t pause for natural disasters, so having a good plan in place BEFORE an event is key. That means premeditated access to critical systems, equipment and data.
At vintrace we are helping customers daily with insurance claim wine asset information and reports, as well as assisting where we can with any customers and colleagues directly affected by the fires. We hope you’re safe and well this harvest and we look forward to working together as an industry to rebuild.
A little about me
After a successful career in corporate America, I transitioned to the wine industry and have become an industry veteran with 10+ years experience as a grower, winemaker, and winery General Manager.
My role as former General Manager for Carneros Vintners custom crush facility and sister facility Lodi Vintners, was the impetus for my investigation of winery production software options. My work with a variety of wineries exposed me to an array of winery software before deciding on the vintrace platform to run the custom crush facilities and since, a few small and larger boutique wineries. My hands on winery experience and real life use of vintrace are the foundation of my success representing the vintrace software platform in North America.