Sandhill Winery, located in Kelowna, BC, is a major Canadian wine producer and part of the Andrew Peller Group. On average, it manages between 1,500 and 2,000 oak barrels of ageing wine. The barrels must be accessed every 4 weeks to carry out three main tasks: collection of samples for chemical analysis, addition of sulfites for quality protection, and topping up the wine level to counteract evaporation. These tasks, carried out using traditional methods, are very labor intensive, and create numerous opportunities for degradation of wine quality. The winemaking team at Sandhill was evaluating ways to address these challenges by improving the operational efficiency, precision, and control over routine barrel work.

The BarrelWise barrel management system (BMS) simplifies the way winemakers and cellar-crew care for ageing wine barrels. Following an initial small-scale trial during 2019 harvest, where the BMS showed potential to significantly reduce barrel work times, the Sandhill team decided to adopt the system at scale. When applied to two rows totaling 212 barrels from August 2020, the BMS saved 53% of the time previously spent on topping, sulfite additions and sampling tasks. The cellar crew also praised the simplicity of the system, which minimized wine spillage, improved sanitation, and relieved some of the risks and physical strain of accessing the barrels for the workers.

After evaluating the costs and benefits of the BarrelWise system, Sandhill made the decision to adopt BarrelWise as the primary barrel work system for the winery’s entire barrel program.

“The BarrelWise system demonstrated significant time saving, making barrel work simpler and easier for the crews, and increasing the consistency for quality.”