Premium winemakers take great care to call harvest at the ripe time, when the most grapes are at the optimal maturity for the style and variety, but ripeness can be uneven and invisible on the skin.
Addressing this issue, Amos Industrie has developed the ingenious Tribaie mechanical grapesorter that separates grapes based on brix level, so winemakers can ensure that only fruit within the targeted ripeness go into their wines to produce the highest quality product possible.
New to the American wine industry, the Tribaie is one of Wine Industry Network’s 2017’s WINnovation Award winners. The machine works by submerging the destemmed grapes in a sugar-water solution that is carefully calibrated to the winemaker’s preferred brix. Ripe grapes with a high brix are dense and sink to the bottom, while grapes not meeting the specified density setting float to the top.
Each group is collected separately, so the winemaker can choose to ferment only one of them, or use one category of grapes for their primary wines and the other for secondary or bulk wines.
With labor supply shortening and costs soaring, many premium wineries are looking for ways to mechanize without sacrificing grape quality, and the Tribaie method has the advantage over both hand sorters and optical sorters that it sees beyond the outer appearance of the fruit to its ripeness, and it works equally well on both red and white grapes. The Tribaie can reduce the labor expenses of sorting while also improving wine quality.
Additional advantages of using the Tribaie is that the grapes are rinsed of dust and chemicals, and it helps stabilize the grapes temperature before fermentation.
Amos Industrie started with their first machine seventeen years ago, and the Tribaie is already used in diverse wine regions across Europe. Amos representative Gilles Deschamps notes that different regions have varying challenges and that the Tribaie can be adapted to meet them.
“In Burgundy, a region that is looking for fruit ripeness in the vineyards because sometimes it can be too cool in Burgundy during vintage, winemakers are looking to make their best or A category wines with riper fruit and their second or B category wines with less ripe fruit,” explains Deschamps. “However, the opposite logic is used by wineries in hotter climates that have an abundance of ripe fruit.”
After being impressed by the Tribaie at a wine industry expo in France and by some of the wineries that use it in Europe, winemakers at Staglin Family Vineyard decided to invest and try it out for their 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon harvest. It is too early for Staglin to determine the results of the machine on this year’s harvest. “It is after both categories have been vinified separately that one can start tasting and evaluating the differences in the wines,” says Dechamps.
Amos Industrie showcased a large model of the Tribaie at the North Coast Wine Industry Expo, held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on November 30, and Deschamps was on hand to discuss the machine with interested parties and had wine samples from clients in Europe to showcase the difference between wines made from the A and B selections.
Each Tribaie machine is made to order by Amos Industrie. It comes in two different models that range from processing 5 – 20 tons of fruit per hour. A designated technician is already in place in the USA for the first Tribaie, and those to follow, but after practice and experience with the Tribaie, the machine is very easy for the winemaker to operate and regulate.
WINnovation Awards are conferred to recognize companies that develop ground-breaking products or practices, and make positive contributions toward the advancement of the North American wine industry. Showing off the most innovative industry suppliers and service professionals.
By Kim Badenfort