BarrelWise has developed a system that makes routine barrel work simple and efficient. It enables barrel topping, sampling, sulfite additions, as well as certain chemical analysis of oak-ageing wine, all while keeping the barrels sealed.
What We Do
BarrelWise Technologies Ltd. is a Vancouver-based company providing technology to enhance wine production and analysis. BarrelWise was started in 2018 by a team of MBAs and PhD Mechanical Engineers at the University of British Columbia (UBC).
Winemaking Today: An Art, a Science… and an Opportunity
Wine has been made for thousands of years, but remains an artisanal, highly variable process. While certain parts of winemaking have been enhanced by modern technology to increase efficiency, consistency, and quality of the product, one process remains in the dark ages - routine barrel work.
During the ageing process 5%-20% of a wine barrel's volume is lost each year due to evaporation. This creates a problem for winemakers, because the empty space resulting from evaporation (a.k.a. ullage, or headspace) facilitates the growth of bacteria which can spoil the wine. If you have ever tasted a 5 day-old open bottle of wine, you know the effect that this has on the wine.
To solve this problem, wineries regularly top up ageing wine barrels with additional wine, thus removing the headspace. They also take sample of wine for lab analysis, and will regularly add sulfites to barrels as a preservative to protect the wine from spoilage. Unfortunately, for commercial-scale wineries with thousands of barrels in their cellars, these routine "barrel work" tasks require significant resources to execute, incur high costs, and still leave plenty of room for the wine quality to be compromised.
The BarrelWise Solution
BarrelWise has developed equipment that addresses these challenges by delivering operational efficiency, quality consistency, and data-driven insights to winemakers, enabling wineries to create a better product while reducing the costs. The company is currently part of the Hatch accelerator program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, and has the support of seasoned business advisors with a breadth of experience in agriculture, industrial design and entrepreneurship.
I was impressed by the concept, and somewhat surprised by how much time saving it demonstrated.
The system showed potential to significantly optimise barrel care processes.
Sandy Leier, Head Winemaker