Bottling boldly: Unsealing the history of a Tasmanian winery

Wines

Home to Australia’s first sparkling wine and world-renowned for producing some of the best cool-climate wines in the world, Tasmania plays host to several lush wine touring trails. Nestled at the heart of the Tamar Valley Wine Trail is Josef Chromy Wines. The lavish estate boasts 61 hectares of well-kept vines and pasture, but the vineyard is not without a storied history that is notably inspiring.

After fleeing his war-torn Czech village in 1950 as a penniless 19-year-old, Josef Chromy spent months crossing borders dotted by minefields and soldiers, before finally immigrating to Tasmania. For 40 years, he worked as a butcher building the leading Tasmanian brand, Blue Ribbon Meat, until 1993, when Blue Ribbon was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and Joe used the returns to begin investing in the Tasmanian wine industry. In lieu of retirement, he founded Josef Chromy Wines in 2007 — at the age of 76.

Josef Chromy’s unique, individual wine-making style has made its mark on the Australian wine industry. “Our winemaking style is founded on producing wines that show a true ‘sense of place’ and celebrate the individual characteristics of each vintage,” says Tony Cudmore. “To ensure the integrity and delicate characteristics of the fruit, our grapes are vinified by employing state-of-the-art technology for traditional winemaking techniques.”

Enter BSC’s Luke Gee, who highlights the importance of excellent fluid transfer systems for the production and processing of wine. “The bottling process is the defining moment for a grape harvest that will determine the quality of the wine out of the bottle,” says Luke. “Tony Cudmore oversees the bottling and packaging of the wines for sale at Josef Chromy, and he has been a customer of ours for a while,” says Luke.

Recently, Luke noticed that Tony Cudmore had been frequenting the branch to stock up on one particular size of seal, so he decided to investigate Tony’s application further. As it turned out, the seals on the bottling machine at Josef Chromy were routinely breaking.

“The seals needed to be replaced after around 20,000 actuations which was not reasonable for what would be expected from one of these machines,” says Tony. “The distributor was only able to supply the same rotary seal from the OEM.”

Upon closer inspection, Luke discovered that the standard rotary seals supplied by the OEM of the bottling machine were prematurely failing because they were not designed for an actuating shaft.

Tony had accepted this as a cost of doing business, however Luke was determined to find a better solution and rang up Raj Jadow at Seal Innovations, one of Motion Asia Pacific’s businesses. Raj requested a sample mechanism for the sealing application and Luke gathered one and sent it to Seal Innovations engineering team for inspection.

Raj sent back a custom actuating seal solution that was appropriate for the shaft application and constructed from food‑grade material. Luke and Tony ran a test and the bottling machine’s performance increased exponentially.

“You would never expect to see such a significant return on investment from a simple seal replacement,” says Tony. “But the new seals have meant that the consistency of the fill height in our bottles has improved considerably, and we have been able to reduce the time spent removing and replacing the seals to an acceptable level, bringing our maintenance costs down considerably, and saving on the cost of replacement seals.”

“The new seal has currently been operational on our bottling machine for around 78,000 actuations, with zero failures so far. That’s quite a leap from 20,000 actuations,” enthuses Tony.

“Winemakers can rely on our technologically advanced sealing solutions that are attuned to their specific needs as a business and can prevent unnecessary downtime that could have a negative impact on the final product,” says Raj Jadow. “At Seal Innovations, I am part of an expert team of product managers and engineers who work closely with OEMs and our customers to produce sealing solutions that are customised for applications.”

“Our sealing solutions can stand up to high-pressure demands, temperature fluctuations, dirt, moisture, corrosive greases and fuels,” enthuses Raj, adding that, “Over the last 50 years, Seal Innovations has partnered with some of the top producers and manufacturers in the country to design, develop, and manufacture a wide range of sealing products for the food and beverage industry.”

For Tony and the team at Josef Chromy Wines, it is the careful attention to detail from vine to glass that is paramount to optimising the quality of their wine and giving their vintage wines a point of difference. “Working hand in hand, the vineyard team and winery team plan for balance of fruit flavour, natural acidity, tannin, structure and texture. Every effort is made in the vineyard so that minimal intervention is required in the winery,” says Tony.

“When we work with great suppliers and distributors who enable us to take a more hands-free approach to the processing and bottling stages, this ultimately allows the subtle and delicate flavours of our cool climate grapes to be expressed to their full potential.”

Wines