While the transformation of grapes into wine remains a practice that has kept the "fundamentals" almost unchanged, technological progress has made it possible to rationalize the work of the technician and support the cellarman in the more traditional operations carried out in the cellar.
The design of a modern oenological establishment necessarily passes through the evaluation of the estimated or actual production capacity. In this phase, in addition to calculating the capacity necessary for a winery to make wine for a certain mass of harvest, it is necessary to take into account the management economy, the modularity and the possibility of expanding the overall working capacity, the arrangement of the rooms suitable for the grapes, to process them and to the subsequent stages of bottling and storage of the finished product.
The reception of the harvested grapes is the first phase of the cellar cycle and involves the use of weighers, sampling probes, chemical analysis station and receiving tanks. From here, with conveyor systems (conveyor belts, augers) you reach the crushing and pressing station, with the presence of crushers, crusher-destemmers, drainers or presses, with the various solutions available today: pneumatic presses, belt presses, hydraulic presses.
For the next phase, fermentation, biotechnological aids are available (yeasts, fermentation activators, enzymes) capable of optimizing the qualitative and quantitative expression of the starting grapes. Fermentation takes place in special containers, fermenters, specially prepared as they are equipped with equipment for pumping over, pomace unloading systems and devices for temperature control.
The "containers" of must and wine represent the macroscopically most evident elements inside the cellar. Better known in the jargon as wine vessels, they are now present in various shapes and above all various construction materials. From the historic wood, which today is mostly used in the refinement phase, we have moved on to vitrified or enameled cement with epoxy resins, to metal (especially 304 or 316 stainless steel depending on the type of wine contained). The steel wine vessels lend themselves to a more versatile use in relation to the various winemaking systems, as well as to storage itself.
Plastic containers have also had a fair amount of diffusion, in particular in GRP (polyester reinforced with glass fiber), with the relative advantages in terms of lightness, durability and thermal conductivity.
More recently, wine vessels in ceramic, terracotta and cocciopesto (a mixture of cement and brick) have been re-proposed for use both in the fermentation and storage / aging phases.
In the wine production "chain" all the separation and clarification techniques take on particular importance, with the aim of avoiding unwanted biochemical or physical processes and improving the visual appearance of the product. Among the equipment and products useful for this purpose we remember centrifugal separators (or, more simply, centrifugal), filters (bag, plate, rotary, membrane, microfilters, ultrafilters etc.), ion exchange devices, flotators, electrodializers etc.
Biotechnologies in oenology have had a significant boost, both in the proposal of microbiological agents useful for avoiding unwanted fermentations, and to better enhance and bring out the characteristics of the grape raw material. This concerned both the area linked to alcoholic fermentation with yeasts available in various forms (dry, cream, pasta) and the related adjuvants (fermentation activators, nutrients, enzymes), to then proceed with selected bacterial cultures for malolactic fermentation. The oenological tannins, used in the stabilization and aging phase, are also having considerable diffusion.
About aging, the wood obviously continues to be the undisputed master with barrels, tonneaux, vats and barriques, of various shapes and sizes. As an alternative to the use of containers themselves made of wood, it is possible to use the so-called "alternatives" or "derivatives", such as chips, shavings and staves that are inserted inside the steel wine vessels, replicating the effect of wooden containers: from "wine in wood" to "wood in wine".
The subsequent oenological phases are those most strictly linked to conditioning or packaging, processes that are implemented through bottling lines that see a sort of assembly line with fillers, cappers, labelers and cappers. As well as with machines each dedicated to a single operation, everything can be done with the so-called "monoblocks".
Finally we move on to the so-called "end of line", which includes the phases related to the preparation for the storage and shipping of the bottles, with carton formers, boxers, palletizers and depalletizers, forklifts, trolleys etc.
Among the consumer products linked to the packaging phase, closures and seals take on particular importance; today in addition to the traditional cork in its various forms (natural, technical, microgranulated, agglomerated, colmated, etc.), we have a large diffusion of capsules and screw caps, synthetic caps and glass caps, each of which is suitable for a fairly defined range of use.
The production of wine then sees the use of machines, equipment and other consumer products, necessary to optimally complete the various stages of the transformation and production process. We therefore remember the oenological pumps, the labels, the capsules and the hoods for sparkling wines, the bottles or more generally the containers (in which we also include the bag in box and cartons).
Outline, but no less important for this, are the analytical activities that require a minimum of instrumentation necessary for at least routine analyzes and the software specifically designed for the wine business, from management to those for keeping the registers required by law, to commercial ones for sales management.
Finally, having reached the goal, an excellent wine in a beautiful and captivating container, it is necessary to equip oneself with those tools to preserve it, uncork the bottle and taste its contents in the best possible ways. Hence the need for refrigerated cases and cabinets, corkscrews, glasses and other accessories that will enhance our product during the tasting.