Good Fruit Grower

February 2013

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Viticulture New winery adds capacity T he "wow" factor is often used to describe sleek, luxury cars and new electronic gadgetry—not industrial, bulk wineries. But Zirkle Wine Company's new facility in Prosser, Washington, is all wow, from its massive, stainless steel tanks to state-of-the-art equipment to precision-designed flow. Even the time it took to build the football-sized winery is amazing. Construction began last year in February and was completed in time for the 2012 harvest and crush last fall. Two 50-ton grape presses came from Italy and fit perfectly when installed on the concrete pad—within millimeters, said David Forsyth, winemaker at Zirkle Wine. "The fact that it was built well, and in such a short time frame, says a lot about winery operations manager David Copeland and his attention to detail," Forsyth said. A powerhouse team with years of Washington wine experience has been assembled to run the winery. Forsyth is a veteran of the state's wine industry, beginning at Hogue Cellars in 1984, and eventually becoming general manager there. Forsyth left Hogue in 2005 to be winemaker at Mercer Estates and joined the new Zirkle Wine staff last June. Copeland, operations manager, worked with Forsyth at both Hogue and Mercer Estates. French-trained winemaker Frederique Spencer, who was previously with Yakima Valley's Sagelands Winery, works with Forsyth in making wine. The Zirkle Wine team is rounded out with a full-time enologist to run the wine laboratory and two full-time cellar masters. Seasonal workers are hired to help with crush. Zirkle Wine Company, a custom crush facility, has room to grow its million-gallon capacity. Efficient by Melissa Hansen The winery was designed to be efficient in all areas, from the handful of staffers needed to make a million gallons of wine to the elevated grape receiving station and flow of product. The receiving station is about 20 feet higher than the winery floor. Gravity is used as much as possible, reducing the amount of energy needed for pumping and also being gentler on the grapes. Other examples of efficiency include using conveyor belts instead of augers to move red grapes, which reduces the amount of solids moved to the fermenting tanks, thereby reducing bitterness in the wine. Overhead lines transfer wine to the tanks, keeping the floor free of unnecessary pipes and hoses. A heat exchanger was installed on the red juice line, Forsyth said, allowing red grapes to be heated up by 30 degrees if needed as they move from the outside crush pad inside to the fermenting tanks—all in one pass. "Being able to do that in one pass, and not having to go through another set of pipes, is huge," he said. Natural lighting from ceiling lights, windows, and rollup window doors create a bright and well-lit environment while reducing energy costs. Additionally, the interior lights have motion sensors to allow lighting only the area where workers are present. —David Forsyth "Smaller wineries don't have the luxury of all the equipment we have here because of the cost and economies of scale." New technology Forsyth said he likes the collaboration with the management team that comes with working at a large winery, compared to being winemaker at a small facility and doing it all by oneself. He also likes access to state-of-the art technology and equipment. 22 FEBRUARY 1, 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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