The wine industry is constantly faced with new trends, challenges, and the pressure to stay ahead of the competition. With that, comes the opportunity to innovate.
Each year Wine Industry Advisor recognizes five wine industry innovators—not just for their impressive ingenuity or technical advances—but because of how their product and/or service betters the North American wine industry.
When Dick Jones got into home winemaking in British Columbia after retiring from pulmonary science, he immediately realized that many aromas from fermenting grapes filled the air during the transformation process. While many winemakers may revel in these bountiful scents, Jones saw those aromas escaping as a loss to his wine product and immediately set out to create a method to retain those natural scents in the wine.
The grape that captured Jones’ attention was the semi-aromatic Pinot Gris—a good place to start experimentation, he thought, because of the heightened complexities one can perceive in the glass. “If he could do this, he could perhaps produce superior wine, since he knew wine quality depends heavily on the aromatics the wine contains,” says Randy Morse, an award-winning writer who became part of the AromaLoc team. “He knew his idea was a good one so filed patents in North America, Europe, and several other wine producing areas.”
Dr. Jones recruited business partners to help with marketing and business development: Paul Gardner, a winery owner and marine engineer; Walter Meyer, a retired corporate executive; Pete Desai, a retired scientist and agricultural promoter, and Morse.
The AromaLoc motto “When it comes to making wine, the nose is mission critical” demonstrates the scientific and engineering logic behind what is basically a simple, fairly affordable machine that preserves those sought-after fermented grape aromas creating an enhanced olfactory experience in a glass.
AromaLoc is non-invasive; nothing is added to the wine. Essentially, AromaLoc traps the smells usually lost during fermentation and returns them back to the developing wine. “The AromaLoc method simply allows headspace gas to flow through a special membrane,” explains Morse. “With the help of a vacuum pump, it separates out the aroma compounds and a little of the CO2, and pumps these back into the headspace above the fermenting wine … aromas tend to remain in the liquid wine rather than travel to the headspace where their concentrations are now very high.”
Although it’s just now becoming commercially available, AromaLoc has been in testing for the last ten years and dozens of blind tastings have shown “large increases in fruity odor, fruity taste, after taste, and like-ability,” says Morse. AromaLoc units have been donated to wine programs for research at major universities and sold to wineries in the USA, Germany, Canada and Russia.
Early reactions from end users are positive, Morse points out. “Texas winemaker Jason Centanni of Llano Estacado Winery has called AromaLoc, ‘a no-brainer, easy-to-use, cost-effective, a real difference-maker.’ and Canadian winemaker Steve Latchford of Second Chance Winery, said, ‘AromaLoc is a deal-breaker—with it, there is no ceiling on what winemakers can accomplish!’”
All WINnovation Award winners will be exhibited at Wine Industry Network’s WINExpo at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on December 2, 2021, where they will also receive their official award and highlighted in the program guide. Register here.