Monday, July 14, 2008

Winesecrets Acquires Vinovation Operations

Firm will expand reverse osmosis/alcohol adjustment services

Napa, Calif. American Winesecrets of Napa acquired the reverse osmosis-based technologies and alcohol-adjustment services of Sebastopol, Calif-based Vinovation Inc.

Winesecrets, which acquired the mobile filtration division of Vinovation in January, will acquire the assets and assume and expand operation at the Sebastopol facility and throughout California and most of North America, says Eric Dahlberg, founder and president of Winesecrets. The transition began this week, and some of Vinovation's employees will join Winesecrets.

American Winesecrets initially provided STARS, a mobile filtration operations service that removes tartrates electronically rather than by cold stabilization, which requires high levels of energy.

Acquiring Vinovation's mobile service allowed Winesecrets to offer taint removal as well. Winesecrets has since developed a fleet of trucks, trailers and trained wine technicians to deliver the tartrate and taint removal services to wineries across the United States and Canada.

With the acquisition of Vinovation's reverse osmosis-based technologies and alcohol adjustment services, Winesecrets will offer more filtration services, including reduction of volatile acidity, alcohol adjustment, Brettanomyces taint removal via reverse osmosis, tartaric stabilization and pH reduction using STARS, cross-flow filtration and ultra-filtration.

During the last few years, Winesecrets has added the technology to remove smoky flavors from wines affected by forest fires. "They can make your wine smell like an ashtray," Dahlberg says. The company first offered the service in Ontario, where extensive fires affected vineyards in 2003.

Unlike the other filtration services, alcohol adjustment involves distillation, so it can only be done at a facility with a distilled spirits permit (DSP), including the plant in Sebastopol. Winesecrets also offers alcohol adjustment as a mobile service in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Canada. It has sites in Sebastopol and Napa, Calif., Dundee, Ore., Penticton, British Columbia, and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Though not often discussed by winemakers, the filtration technologies are widely used. "Almost everyone who is anyone in the wine business has used Vinovation's services," Dahlberg says. He says that between his existing business and the new services, 300 to 400 companies now use Winesecrets' capabilities.

Dahlberg says he plans to bring the technology to Napa next year, augmenting the facility in Sonoma County's Sebastopol.

Clark and Brian Smith, owners of Vinovation, will continue to hold the U.S. and international patents on their reverse-osmosis method for reduction of volatile acidity and alcohol adjustment. They plan to continue their research and development, as well as legal efforts to protect the technologies.

Clark Smith told Wines & Vines, "We like to develop the technology, then turn it over to someone who can focus on it. This is another baby we've kicked out."

Smith expects to expand his varied Winesmith consulting operations and continue to make a small amount of wine. Among his activities are matching wine with music, effluent-free wine production and neutraceuticals made from wine.
Winesecrets Acquires Vinovation Operations
Firm will expand reverse osmosis/alcohol adjustment services

by Paul Franson