Sea Smoke and the Passion for Improvements

Sea Smoke, a ​​Californian winery in Santa Barbara County, is long known for their premium Pinot Noir distributed exclusively to its member list. When the BarrelWise team had a chance to introduce our technology, Don Schroeder — the Sea Smoke winemaker for 20 years and counting — saw an opportunity to use the FS1 System to get a better understanding of the protection against microbial activity for their barrel-aged Pinot Noir before harvest. With this technology, Sea Smoke planned to utilize the current staff capacity to measure free SO₂ in all barrels while having data automatically uploaded to a cloud database and accessible in a winemaker’s portal.  

Barrel Audit & Maintaining Homogeneous SO₂ Levels Across Barrels

In preparation for the audit, BarrelWise arranged specialists to ensure a seamless experience for Sea Smoke, from setting up and testing the database of all barrel information as well as on-site installation and staff training. Within an hour of training, the staff at Sea Smoke were comfortable with the device and able to start their audit plan.

In a span of two weeks, Sea Smoke has completed measuring all of the barrels across 50 lots. During the process, the team also did post-addition checks to monitor whether the additions achieved the free SO₂ target level.

Don commented, “It was an eye-opening experience seeing the granular level of data compared to composite sampling data. We were able to immediately adjust the barrels that were under the target, and flag anything we want to monitor and investigate more closely through post-addition checks. The FS1 System gives us the ability to make the SO₂ levels homogeneous without having to rack and return all the wine.”

He added, “That’s the most important thing for any technology, to lead to the actions that matter.”

Adopting the technology for long-term improvements 

After reviewing in detail the value that FS1 brings, Sea Smoke has decided to adopt the system on a permanent basis. It is a step up to get a much higher level of detail with significantly less labor requirement while eliminating manual data handling.

With this granular level of information, Don sees great potential to peel away the layers in a complex process of managing free SO₂ and pave the way for more future improvements to the barrel management program. He also had positive feedback on how the user portal is well-designed and how well-thought-out the data is presented and organized. 

Another great timing event — At the time of deciding to adopt the FS1, BarrelWise had just released the latest integration with InnoVint, the wine production software currently used by Sea Smoke, and offered to handle the integration and further eliminate the manual data transfer between systems. 

1% better, every year

As Don nicely put it, “Our team is always looking for 1% improvement each year, and believe there will be a huge difference by the time we look back.”

“A common denominator of all BarrelWise customers so far is to not settle with the status quo, and always find ways to improve how they do things,” Jason Sparrow, CEO of BarrelWise, said, “We are excited to enter the first chapter working with Sea Smoke, and looking forward to seeing how they use the system to improve their barrel management, as each of our customers has their own creative way to integrate our technology into their daily operations.”