By Barbara Barrielle
InnoVint, a 2019 WINnovation Award winner
When Ashley DuBois Leonard worked in production for a number of small and large wineries, she knew there was something missing. There had to be an easier way to manage all aspects of production and have necessary information available to everyone in the winery that needed it.
With a degree in viticulture and enology from UC Davis and having worked almost every job in a winery, she transitioned to working in technology when, after discussions with many of her winemaking peers, she realized her frustration with reliability and accuracy of production information was felt by many in the industry.
She set out to create a platform that would transform how winemakers worked through the production process, but it had to be mobile-friendly, intuitive and flexible as well as easy to learn. InnoVint was founded in 2014 and, since then, thousands of winemakers have found the software to be groundbreaking and an invaluable tool in production. The entire InnoVint team has had winery production experience so they know intimately the issues they are dealing with when problem solving in a winery environment.
Their clients are overwhelmingly appreciative. “We have been using InnoVint for a little over a year. Before switching to InnoVint, we kept data in about a dozen complex spreadsheet,” says Ben Shapiro, assistant winemaker at J. Scott Cellars. “It was pretty dysfunctional, but now all our data is centralized. All my team members can view this data in the winery or on the road through the InnoVint app. The ability to quickly look up key details, like the blend fractions, recent chemistry, and calculated addition rates, helps my team make good and accurate decisions in the winery.”
Leonard points out that in six years InnoVint has grown to have over 700 wineries as clients and has 13 million cases under management. They have clients in 27 states. All of this is because her team knows winemaking and how best to digitally manage the production process from grape to bottle.
“Working with InnoVint since the beta version, I have seen first-hand the commitment of the team to creating and refining a powerful winemaking management tool,” says Anne Fogerty, assistant winemaker at Rivers-Marie Vineyards. “I’m continually amazed at the ability to easily find historical data, organize busy harvest days, and create templates for work that give me more time to be out in the action. The more you put into this system, the larger the dividends.”
Case studies show the difference InnoVint has made in saving time and money. At The Wine Foundry in Napa, California, the implementation of InnoVint is saving significant hours of winemaker and staff time per week. A custom crush facility, The Wine Foundry had their own specific needs. They manage over 25 custom crush clients along with their own brands. They work with some of the most exclusive, small-lot boutique wineries with bottle price over $100. It is important that they are a seamless and effective operation.
“The ability for clients to write their own work orders directly in the system and the ability to create work order templates,” said Steve Ryan, General Manager at The Wine Foundry, “these were driving forces to consider the transition, as it would directly show an impact to the bottom line by creating efficiencies.” InnoVint was able to import information from The Wine Foundry’s existing but inefficient production software, so the winery did not miss a beat in conversion.
Because custom crush customers have access to the software, there is no longer the need to go back and forth in communications. In addition, InnoVint allows clients to generate government compliance reports and follow the real-time work on their wines in the cellar, whether they were present in the cellar or away.
Custom crush clients were given access to the system which eliminated much of the back-and-forth that slowed them down before. Now outfitted with the ability to obtain their own government compliance reports and view the real-time progress of work in the cellar, clients were happier than ever.
Internal communications, communications with clients, task management, work flow management and both government and production reports mean a huge time savings as well as the reduction of errors and consolidation of responsibilities has meant a significant time and cost savings.
“We quantified it as an average of 32.5 hours per week saved between the reduction of part-time personnel and time freed up from responding to calls and emails,” says Ryan. “We chose to reinvest this savings into the business in order to improve wine quality and client services.”
At Outpost Wines in Angwin, they produce ultra-premium wines as single varietals from the winery’s 28 acre estate vineyard under the guidance of winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown. They also have custom crush clients. Prior to InnoVint, Outpost was relying on Excel and paper to manage operations and day-to-day workflow. Handwritten and printed workorders were the norm and, although they felt they needed a production software, existing options seemed too big and too costly for their needs. They explored InnoVint as a possibility for the small to medium wine producer.
For Outpost, the goal was to find a productivity tool that made the winemaking team effective data trackers and workflow processors so that they could concentrate on creating the wines instead of chasing information. Since implementing InnoVint, the biggest gain to the Outpost team is the sharing of data across all levels of staff form the winemaker and winery manager to the interns.
At Outpost, InnoVint is the daily resource that drives all decision-making, the assistant winemaker and cellar master review InnoVint data each morning. During non-harvest time, digital orders for topping, racking and additions are assigned based on data. During harvest, the assistant winemaker assigns pumpovers, punchdowns, and analysis work for AM and PM rounds using Innovint’s Fermentation Work Order Generator. Fruit is received and weight tags are created with InnoVint while the Cellar Master uses an iPad to organize pressing, barrel-downs, inventory, transfers and barrel fermentations.
“The combination of real-time and historical data on a cloud-based platform has been amazingly useful for timely decisions during harvest, reporting on previous experiences in a wine’s life, and reliable data for clients, owners and sales staff,” says John Giannini, a winemaker at Outpost. “With InnoVint, we save 5-10 hours a week during non-harvest weeks and an easy 15 hours during harvest and post-harvest.
At J. Scott Cellars, Ben Shapiro agrees, “I would recommend InnoVint to any winery and winemaker who wants an intuitive workflow, centralized data, and increased communication with their teams. Everyone at J. Scott Cellars, from the owner to our cellar hands, feels empowered by using InnoVint.”
To learn more about InnoVint’s WINnovation Award winning technology, visit them at the North Coast Wine Industry Expo and Conference December 5 in Santa Rosa, where they will be exhibiting at booth 402.