IQ 2015: Innovation+Quality Awards Wine Business Monthly’s editorial mission is to help wineries and growers evaluate and successfully deploy innovative, new products. Each month, WBM publishes Bill Pregler’s “What’s Cool” column, where Pregler focuses on an innovative new product; and each year we publish the top Cool Products from the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium as selected by senior technical editor Curtis Phillips. In addition, we write articles throughout the year about new product categories that are advancing quality in the wine industry. From these, the winners of the first annual Innovation Award were chosen and include both Product Categories as well as individual products that we believe are the best of the best. Winning products have been hand-selected by the IQ Advisory Board and the WBM editorial team solely on criteria of innovation relevant to ultra-premium wineries.
Cool Product Categories: There are a number of product categories in the wine industry that are seeing innovation. Optical Sorters are a new technology for the wine industry, although they have been used in other industries for years. These machines are gaining interest among winemakers interested in clean and uniform fruit as well as in potential labor cost savings. More than 50 optical sorters are now in use within the U.S. wine industry. WECO Sorting and Automation’s WineGrapeTek is an automated optical grape sorter. It is LED-lit (flat panel display with LED backlighting). “I think that is going to be the industry standard if it isn’t already,” says WBM What’s Cool columnist Bill Pregler. Pregler likes the small footprint and the easy-to-service modular design of the optics. “This sorter also looks reasonably easy to clean. The optics use a no-background, controlled depth-of-field focus, which doesn’t need a calibrated background grid.”