An innovative tool to help winemakers keep track of their ferments is now available from the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI).
The concept of a ferment simulator isn’t new but what is are the delivery and presentation. A spreadsheet-based format developed in a previous Wine Australia-funded project has now been replaced by a slick new app that allows access to the simulator from smartphones and tablets.
‘The original ferment simulator released in 2012 used some clever algorithms, but the spreadsheet format was not always easy to use’, said Project Engineer Tadro Abbott. ‘The idea of migrating to the app was to have something more user friendly.’
Tadro says there are other software packages for tracking ferments but ‘nothing I’m aware of in the prediction space’.
As with the original (which is still available for those who are familiar with it), winemakers need to input key data, but the app then does the work, indicating whether a ferment is on track, sluggish or racing, compared to a desired ferment time, specified by the winemaker.
‘You need to put in a bare minimum of initial Baumé, ferment size in kilolitres or tonnes and predicted duration’, Tadro said. ‘And if you measure YAN that’s going to really help. Then, during the ferment, you need to input the daily or twice daily Baumé and temperature readings.’
‘It will also track all of your actions, so if you’re doing pump-overs, adding nitrogen, adding more yeast, juice or anything like that, it will feed that back into the model as well.’
The app makes no judgment as to how a ferment should run; it reports on progress relative to the predicted ferment time and lets winemakers experiment with different corrective actions before touching a tank in the winery if things aren’t going to plan.
‘It can help you be a bit more targeted in your interventions and get the conditions right so the ferment goes through to completion’, Tadro said. ‘You can also go back and re-model previous ferments and assess how things could have been done better.’
‘Down the track we’d love to get this integrated with ferment sensors, which we’ve done a little bit of work with, but there aren’t many people in industry using them at the moment. Sensors would reduce a lot of the labour required even with the app for support.’
The free web app runs through a browser and displays well on phones and tablets as well as computers.
It is available through the WineCloud, the AWRI’s platform for a range of apps and online resources. Register now at www.thewinecloud.com.au.