Austrian vineyard optimizes wine quality with ABB technology

Case study | March 10, 2024

Producing top-quality wine that will stand out in the highly competitive wine market means making sure that every step of the wine-making process is performed to the highest levels of quality. 

A vineyard in Austria is using an ABB Coriolis flowmeter with ABB's DensiMass software integrated to obtain accurate measurements of the sugar content of its wine must and an RVG200 data recorder to record all data along the process. This will allow the winemaker to accurately control the final alcohol content of its finished wine.

The density measurement through the DensiMass software calculates the level of sugar and the percentage of alcohol content.   

Typically, the ABB technologies are used in industrial setups, such as in wastewater treatment, power, or chemicals production for the precise measurement of mass flow, volume flow, density, or concentration of liquids.


Sampling vs comprehensive measurement

The Weinhof Krachler vineyard in Austria has seven hectares of land devoted to viticulture. It produces a range of wines, including red, white, rose and sparkling wines. 

The process of wine making at the vineyard begins with producing wine must.

The grapes are first harvested, weighed, and processed to squeeze out the juice. This ‘wine must’ is essentially grape juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit. The solid portion of the must is called pomace and typically makes between 7 and 23 percent of the total weight of the must.

At this stage, the must has a particular sugar content that the wine maker needs to know to control the fermentation process more precisely. This is important because the quality of the wine is dictated by its sweetness and potential alcoholic content. The solution provided by ABB helps to ensure the right balance of sweetness and acidity in the finished product.

Markus Krachler, owner of the Weinhof Krachler vineyard, says: “The sweetness of the juice is important to know as it gives information on how much alcohol will be in the final wine after fermentation. Not all the sugar is fermented during the winemaking, as some is left to give the wine a proper sweetness.”

The acidity is also measured, and together with the measurement of sweetness, this allows the quality of the finished wine to be determined. Depending on the type of wine and grape, different rest sweetness is required in combination with the acidity. For example, some wines, such as dessert wines, contain more sugar while having less acidity.

Grape sweetness has traditionally been measured by taking a sample and assessing it using a refractometer. This measures the refractive index of a liquid, which changes according to moisture content.

However, using a sampling method that allowed only intermittent measurements provided limited information. Krachler wanted a more comprehensive measurement system that produced more data and so chose the ABB CoriolisMaster FCB450 and the RVG200 data recorder. 

“Introducing continuous on-line measurement provides a constant indication of sweetness. By using the CoriolisMaster, we get not only the sweetness but also the weight of the produced juice and the volume as well.”

The solution: ABB's CoriolisMaster and RVG200

The CoriolisMaster displays the sweetness of the must in KMW (Klosterneuburger Most Waage) at all times. The RVG200 logs the captured sweetness data and converts it into other units to suit the needs of different countries. This includes measurement units such as Oechsle, Brix, a hydrometer scale measuring the density of grape must, an indication of grape ripeness and sugar content. 

The RVG200 can also convert data into relative density. Austria’s Wine Institute publishes a standard relating to the relative density which states that this should be quoted at 20 degrees C. Krachler uses the RVG200 to calculate this figure from measurements made by the Coriolis flowmeter, which calculates the density at the actual temperature of the must. 

The RVG200 is also used to calculate the predicted alcohol content of the wine. The Wine Institute publishes this to all grape farmers and wine producers. The calculation is updated every year to reflect the changes in each grape harvest and so needs to be easily updateable.

“Since the CoriolisMaster FCB450 can measure much more than only the sweetness, the RVG200 is a perfect instrument to collect all the data. The sensor is equipped with Ethernet TCP Bus so the RVG200 can handle all this information by simply connecting one Ethernet cable. The RVG200 can also give us all the batches of different types of grapes recorded separately and stores all this information for further investigation.”

Improving the quality of wine with data

Having all this data to hand helps the vineyard improve the quality of its products. 

“Knowing all these parameters, the quality improves right from the beginning of production. With this information, it is easy to get an accurate prediction of the fermentation.”

Features of the RVG200 include touchscreen ‘swipe’ operation, front and rear USB ports for connecting peripheral devices and communications via Ethernet and RS485. The RVG200 can connect to up to 24 process signals via its analog inputs or through digital communications.

With its integrated DensiMass software, the CoriolisMaster FCB450 offers direct concentration measurements, Brix measurements or net oil calculations (water content). Even temperature-standardized calculations of density and volume, based on the extensive database stored in the measuring device, can be conducted. The device also offers FillMass software for controlling filling operations.

As they have zero up or downstream piping requirements, Coriolis flowmeters can be installed in the tightest spaces, enabling applications not previously possible. Easy to set up, ABB Coriolis flowmeters can be operated through the glass via capacitive keys.

The RVG200 could also continue to support the vineyard if it chooses to expand. “In our small vinery we only use one press for harvesting,” says Krachler, “but the RVG200 could handle much more information than required at the moment. I like the flexibility of the RVG200 as it could allow us to expand.”

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