From overwhelmed to organized: Vineyard 29’s first harvest with vintrace

Like most winemakers with too much to do during harvest, it was often a battle for Keith Emerson, Head Winemaker at Vineyard 29 – a 350 ton winery in St. Helena, California – to stay awake while typing up the next days’ work orders. “After a long harvest day followed by helping my kids with homework, and getting them to bed, I am pretty tired when sitting down to write the next day’s plan.” And sometimes a tank would be missed in the next day’s pump over list.

Keith and Assistant Winemaker Tim Mills were looking to improve productivity, data integrity and access, and avoid mistakes, while continuing to make even better wines. Keith needed “a cloud based software system that we can access from anywhere including smartphones and/or tablets, and one that communicates with TankNet.” After evaluating options, Keith and Tim chose vintrace as their wine production software system. Founded in 2007 vintrace had the experience, features and supportive staff Vineyard 29 needed to confidently make the leap to a modern, mobile enabled wine making system.

Nearly every winery, including Vineyard 29, is challenged to find cellar staff, a situation that is likely to continue. Emerson knows the most enduring way to address this issue is to eliminate the work itself wherever possible, such as investing in automated pump-over devices. Using vintrace has vastly reduced the time spent making manual additions calculations, or logging hand-written completed work and lab data into a clumsy system. The happy result is that Vineyard 29 has been able to reduce its harvest crew from 4-5 interns down to just two, while giving Keith and his team more time to do higher value work in the vineyard and winery.

Vintrace requires less data entry time, avoiding the paperwork backlogs that can be as much as one week during the peak of harvest. Emerson notes that by using vintrace “everything is fresh in our heads when entering data, so it goes faster and we don’t make mistakes.” In the lab, Vintrace improves reporting and eliminates the need for a lab tech to create reports for the winemaker. Keith explains that “we enter data directly into vintrace as we run the analyses and see those results immediately. For instance, if Tim is running analysis and I am offsite in the vineyard or elsewhere, I can see the analysis results as he runs and enters them. Tim doesn’t have stop what he is doing to prepare and send me a summary of the analysis.” In the future Vineyard 29 may take advantage of vintrace’s built in integrations to lab equipment and outside laboratories to further reduce data entry.

Getting started. Unlike so many new system installation and training processes that are time consuming and fraught with errors, vintrace made it easy by providing Vineyard 29 a starting database filled with all bulk wine statistics, tank numbers and volumes, barrel types, lot codes and so on. Tim is a fan of vintrace’s tutorials, which he studies at his convenience. Overall, he’s found learning to use vintrace pretty intuitive. And best of all, vintrace has support staff ready to help with a live screen share, via email and over the phone.

Finally, Keith notes that “with Vintrace, I have more time to be the winemaker, to walk the vineyards, to taste the ferments. If I’m an hour away in the middle of a vineyard, I can immediately address a winery issue and write a workorder. And nothing gets lost in translation converting an oral request into a written work order. “

Most importantly, Keith is sleeping a bit more. With the important workorders already set up in Vintrace, it only takes him about 20 minutes to write up the remaining tasks from home.

For more information contact vintrace at sales@vintrace.com

For more information about Vineyard 29 please visit their website www.vineyard29.com

Joshua Abra

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