AUSTRALIAN WINE producer and exporter, Taylors Wines, optimises its Clare Valley production facility with the aid of environmentally-friendly compressed air systems fromChampion Compressors.
Winemaking has changed little over the centuries and conjures up romantic notions of harvesting nature’s offerings and crafting them into heady, medicinal elixirs, each one different from the last.
While winemaking is simple in theory-ferment grape juice with the addition of yeast-the reality is quite different indeed.
Winemaking is undoubtedly an art that requires precise management from vine to bottle, in order to consistently produce the complex flavours and colours that fascinate and delight consumers the world over.
However, the culture of winemaking is changing, with consumers demanding vintage-quality wines in large volumes, and affordable prices.
Today’s winemakers are faced with the challenge of producing wines, true to traditional methods, while maximising output to satisfy escalating demand.
With oak barrels increasingly replaced by stainless steel processing vats, and pounding human feet substituted for precision-controlled crushing technologies, winemakers are rocketing into the twenty-first century, bringing their tradition with them.
One such winemaker who is blending traditional winemaking values with modern processing technologies is Taylors Wines.
Located in the famous wine-growing region of the Clare Valley, 140 km north of Adelaide, Taylors Wines incorporates vineyards, winery and a state-of-the-art bottling facility.
Family-owned and boasting a rich 37-year history, the winemaker annually produces around half a million cases of premium table wines for local sale and
From vine to bottle
Much of the winemaking process at Taylors Wines combines time-honoured viticultural methods with current-day automated mechanical processes.
Once harvested, the berries are crushed, chilled, fermented and bottled, transforming the humble grape into a number of delicious drinkable variants.
A significant proportion of the equipment used in the winery and bottling facility relies heavily on pneumatic power.
A compressed air upgrade has allowed Taylors Wines to optimise its wine production process.
Leading Australian air compressor designer and manufacturer, Champion Compressors, provided Taylors Wines with several fully-engineered and tailored compressed air solutions.
Providing food-grade compressed air for both the winery and bottling facility, the compressed air packages are vital to the operation of the Taylors Wines enterprise.
At the heart of the winemaking process are the pneumatic wine-presses. With load capacities ranging from 8 to 60 tonne, several bag presses are employed to squeeze the precious juice from the berries.
The bag presses are equipped with food-grade membranes, which are filled with fruit and subjected to various degrees of compression.
A single Champion 30-kW CSF30 air compressor provides the bag presses with compressed air to precisely control the crushing process, ensuring the berries are pressed only to the degree warranted by the type of wine being produced.
According to Taylors Wines maintenance supervisor, Chip Stanbridge, compressed air provides an ideal means of accurately controlling the magnitude of the press.
“Depending on the wine variety being produced, the grapes will undergo various stages of pressing,” Stanbridge explained.
“Accurate control of the bag presses is crucial to the quality of the finished product. The reliability of the Champion compressor unit provides us with high levels of product controllability.”
The compressor company also provided a number of refrigerated dryers and filtration devices to ensure the food-grade quality of the compressed air.
“If one of the bag presses gets punctured, we can be sure that our product has not been contaminated,” he said.
Once crushed and fermented, the wine is transported to the winemakers on-site bottling facility in a seamless transition from the traditional winemaking process to the high-tech packaging operation.
A real bottler
With a production capability of 6,000 bottles/hr, the winemaker’s bottling facility represents a production application of the highest order.
Required for nearly every stage of the bottling process, compressed air represents the lifeblood of this large-scale packaging application.
Two 15-kW Champion CSF15 air compressors – one ‘operation’ unit plus one ‘stand-by’- provide instrument air for the actuation of the bottling facility’s numerous pneumatic devices.
“The bottle rinsers, fillers and screw-cappers all require compressed air,” Stanbridge said. “The pick-and-place machinery, bottle labeller, carton erector and palletiser are also partially driven by compressed air.”
The compressors are fitted with an automatic lead/lag controller, enabling the selection of one ‘operating’ and one ‘stand-by’ compressor.
Champion Compressors South Australian state manager, Daryl Edwards, said that the designation can be alternated to ensure equal load sharing across the two compressors.
“In the event that the plant’s compressed air demand exceeds the output of the operational compressor, a pressure sensor on the compressed air output ensures the stand-by compressor kicks in and makes up the difference,” Edwards said.
The compressors are required to run continuously throughout the plant’s eight-hour production cycle.
“We can’t afford to have breakdowns here. If a compressor goes down, so does our operation. Reliability is paramount,” Stanbridge explained.
“Champion really came through with the right solution to keep our facility online, especially during periods of increased activity.”
With the winemakers livelihood completely dependant on the health of the earth, it stands to reason that the company goes to great lengths to protect and nurture its environment.
Included in the compressor upgrade was a plant-wide switch to Champion’s environmentally-friendly Sullube compressor lubricant.
“Sullube is a high-performance, long-life lubricant that is bio-degradable when mixed with water, which means it is clean, environmentally safe, and can be safely and legally drained into sewerage systems,” Edwards explained.
“Sullube exhibits up to eight times the life of conventional mineral oils and was developed to provide excellent protection for rotary-screw compressors, with the environment in mind.”
Noise pollution was also considered when selecting the compressors.
“The compressors are installed in areas where a number of our staff are permanently located,” Stanbridge said.
“The Champion compressors can barely be heard, which protects our workers and maintains the winery’s tranquil atmosphere.”
Champion’s relationship with Taylors Wines is ongoing, with the winemaker taking up a ten-year compressor service agreement.
Edwards said regular servicing by qualified Champion Compressors technicians will better-ensure the reliable and long-lasting operation of Taylors Wines’ compressors.
“With our nation-wide network of field offices, Champion provides straightforward access to replacement components,” he said.
Stanbridge commented that it was the compressor company’s customer service capability that was the key factor in his decision to use Champion.
“It’s reassuring to know that Champion offer 24-hour around-the-clock servicing,” he said.
“The compressor upgrade here at Taylors Wines has enabled us to realise a range of operational and environmental benefits, while taking our winemaking enterprise into the twenty-first century.”