Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  21 Nov 2010

AGRICULTURE: Nitrogen Plays Its Part In Fine Wines


Recent Western Cape Business News

STETTYN Cellar supplies millions of litres of wine to First Cape for export. This wine cellar selected an Atlas Copco NG nitrogen generator to deliver pure nitrogen to two of the main applications in the wine making process.

Stettyn Cellar Wine Master, Albie Treurnicht, sketches the Cellars’ background: “Stettyn Cellar has a wine making history that spans over a century and was established as a co-op in 1963. With five production units, we currently produce 6 500 tons of grapes per year from 355.27 ha of premium grape varieties sourced mainly from vineyards on the farms of Stettyn, Jonkersrivier and Die Hoek”.

There are plans in the pipeline to increase the planting area to 480 ha and production to 8 000 tons per annum by 2016. Wines produced by Stettyn are bottled and sold overseas under the popular brand of First Cape, and despite the global recession, Stettyn has sustained a steady 60% growth rate over the past four years.

We supply approximately 10% of an estimated 32 million litres of wine exported by the well known First Cape, where we also have a 7% share holding,” says Treurnicht.

When Stettyn Cellar were involved in an expansion project in 2009, the wine maker with 30 years of wine making experience under his belt, had occasion to taste wine produced purely under a Nitrogen blanket.

These wines could only be described as phenomenal in taste, colour and flavour, characteristics prized by any wine maker - a clear indication that investing in a NG nitrogen generator to deliver nitrogen would enhance our wine quality as well as our well respected reputation and we agreed to install a NG nitrogen generator in specific key areas.”

Enquiries for a supplier of a quality nitrogen generator unit went ahead and, with a reputation for designing, engineering and manufacturing a range of class leading NG Nitrogen generators, Atlas Copco South Africa emerged as the winner.

Atlas Copco provides cost effective, reliable, secure and flexible on-site nitrogen for diverse applications including food and beverage, packaging, pharmaceutical and chemical applications, electronics and so on.

Commenting on product and service quality, Treurnicht says that Atlas Copco presented the best value for pressure swing adsorption technology and the Alu-pipe networking system.

The Atlas Copco team attended to the entire process - from design to delivery - with the utmost professionalism and dedication, always being on call to assist with advice as needed. Another factor worth mentioning is the ease with which we installed the unit. The generator was delivered on time, unpacked and installed without any hitches by our cellar staff that has had no formal engineering training.”

This is yet another major cost saving as we did not have pay for nor rely on specialised artisans to do the job. The system runs every day and has been operating seamlessly and efficiently since the day we installed the unit.”

Atlas Copco specialists, together with Atlas Copco Western Cape distributor, John Pereira from Zetapro, a filtration and processing solutions company, paid a visit to Stettyn Cellar in order to assess the applications and discuss requirements. “We recommended the Atlas Copco NG nitrogen generator for the two applications Albie identified,” says Charl Ackerman, Atlas Copco Product Manager - Industrial Air.

Being based in the Western Cape, Pereira has experience in the wine industry and played a vital role in identifying Stettyn’s requirements and the subsequent installation of the compressor.

The Atlas Copco NG nitrogen generator, installed and commissioned by Stettyn Cellar in January 2010, is applied firstly for sparging of all white wine cultivars to minimise oxidation potential; this first application resulted in lower concentrations of sulpher in the end product.

This is probably the single biggest gain as a high sulpher content masks the flavour and bleaches the colour of the wine, so the less the sulpher content the better the wine,” explains Treurnicht.

The unit’s second main application is the supply of nitrogen gas during flotation of the juice. The new process has resulted in major cost saving when compared to the normal cold setting procedures.”

We are finding that the treated wine shows better up-front fruit qualities, has enhanced flavour and also shows the greenish colour tint which is so sought after in white wines”.

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