Optical Sorting

Exciting Winemaking Technology

Our winemakers have an exciting new tool to help them sort our fruit. Years of testing by Steve and his winemaking team led them to a revolutionary digital scanner sorting technique that permits only the finest fruit to reach our fermentation tanks, barrels, and finished wines. Of course, the first step in achieving flawless fruit starts with organic, small-vine farming. Once the fruit reaches an ideal ripeness, our vineyard crew, under the direction of Don Munk, hand harvests only the choicest whole clusters. Fruit is collected in small bins and stacked on our biodiesel trucks for delivery to the winery.

Fruit is picked in the predawn hours to ensure that the berries are cool, firm, and opaque throughout the processing. Each bin of fruit is elevated above the hopper, and the clusters are dropped onto a sorting table where our harvest team hand sorts to remove imperfections and MOG (Material Other than Grapes). The sorted fruit is again elevated, this time to an oscillating destemmer, one of only six such precision machines operating in the Napa Valley. This state-of-the-art technology gently removes the fruit from its stem, allowing the whole berries to spread evenly across a conveying table. Once on the conveying table, the individual berries are optically sorted.
At this point, the optical sorter is precisely calibrated  by our winemakers to seek out perfect berries. Each morning, our winemakers carefully select ideal berries and pass them through a stream of electroluminescent diodes similar to LED lights. The machine reads the organic composition of each berry, in a sense taking a microsecond photo that measures color, texture, and organic structure. With the picture of the perfect berry “in mind,” the optical sorter can then seek out diseased and desiccated (”raisined”) berries as they emit a dissimilar light wavelength. The sorter blows a strong puff of air on the flawed berry, knocking it into a separate hopper. It is truly amazing to watch this machine in action, removing all imperfections and collecting only whole pristine berries.

We are thrilled to make this tremendous leap in winemaking technology and quality. We invite you to witness this machine in action in our newly expanded gravity-flow winemaking facilities. 

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