‘Bond villain winery’ uses submarine tech to ferment wine

5th February, 2016 by Darren Smith

A high-tech winery in California’s Napa Valley is using a process called sono-densitometry – a technology used in the submarine industry – to control the fermentation of its wines.

Welcome to the Fermentation Dome: data projected onto the wall of the dome show cellar staff exactly what is happening in the tanks (Photo: Palmaz Vineyards)

‘Come, come, Mr Bond, you get just as much fulfilment from fermenting grape juice as I do’: data projected onto the wall of the Bond villain-esque Fermentation Dome at Palmaz Vineyards show cellar staff exactly what is happening in the tanks below (Photo: Palmaz)

Palmaz Vineyards, which predominantly makes Cabernet Sauvignon, has adopted the technology for its ‘Fermentation Intelligence Logic Control System’. The system allows cellar staff to detect aberrations during fermentation before they develop into problems that could spoil the wine, technology journal Wired reported.

The system analyses the fermenting wine at a molecular level, providing the winemaker with information needed to adjust temperatures in different parts of the tank with a high level of precision.

It is based on a submarine-­industry technology known as sono-­densitometry and involves inserting a tuning fork-like probe into each tank, which measures vibrations 10 times every second, yielding a large amount of data about the density of the liquid. From this the winemaker can assess the rate at which fermentation is occurring in different areas of the tank.

Then software then processes the data to reveal temperature variations, which can then be adjusted to ensure a controlled, stable fermentation.

Blofeld's hidden lair in You Only Live Twice looks in comparison with Palmaz Vineyards' Fermentation Dome

Blofeld’s hidden lair in You Only Live Twice might be considered antediluvian compared with Palmaz Vineyards’ Fermentation Dome

The information generated from the system is projected on to the walls of Palmaz’s Fermentation Dome, a reinforced structure build into the rock of Mount George in Napa – which Palmaz claims is the largest underground reinforced structure in the world.

The dome has been likened to a Bond villain-esque underground layer with elements of Minority Report thrown in.

A geotagging system even identifies which winemaker is standing in front of a given tank, so the data the winemaker is working with is projected wherever they are standing.

The 55-acre Palmaz Vineyards estate was bought by Julio and Amalia Palmaz in 1997. It includes a 110,000 sq ft,18 floor-tall, gravity-fed winery built into the rock of Mount George.

Julio Palmaz is a former radiologist who made his fortune inventing the Palmaz-Schatz ‘balloon-expandable’ stent – recognised in Intellectual Property International Magazine as one of “Ten Patents that Changed the World” in the 20th century.

The winery is now run by Julio and Amalia’s son, Christian.

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