Monitoring the quality control chain from vineyard to wine : an industrial case study
The production of premium quality wine is dependant on excellent management of the total wine production value chain. To achieve this we need rapid and reliable analytical tools. Over the last decade Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy has made a significant contribution to wine research and in the last five years South African institutions have also exploited the use of this technology not only for research, but also in industrial cellars. The FT-IR apparatus is equipped with global calibrations and therefore we first investigated the validity of these for South African conditions. To achieve this new calibration sets for pH, titratable acidity and °Brix were made and compared to the global calibrations with statistical methods. Results obtained between the °Brix calibrations displayed high correlation and the global calibration can therefore be implemented. However, the new TA calibration was more accurate than the global calibration. Results were inconclusive for the new pH calibration sample set and therefore needs to be enlarged before it can be validated as the possibility of being more accurate exists. It was concluded that FT-IR spectroscopy in the simultaneous measurement for °Brix, pH and TA in grape must showed potential for accurate analysis and quality control purposes in an industrial cellar. Rapid analysis of these parameters will lead to higher throughput of grape must samples in the laboratory as well as adhering to good laboratory practices by validation. The importance of correct sample preparation in the laboratory was illustrated when using FT-IR spectroscopy for one-step analysis and adjustments to global calibrations. Results obtained showed that grape parameters such as °Brix, nitrogen content were not influenced by the two sample preparation methods (hand pressed vs. homogenised), but pH, TA, colour index, anthocyanins and polyphenols were influenced. Important key factors were identified in the quality control chain from vineyard to the cellar. Numerous grape loads had an increase in microbial populations after harvesting the vineyard and transport to the weighbridge. Transport is critical especially for the vineyards in the Lutzville area (had the highest yeast population), which are situated the furthest from the cellar. Sauvignon blanc had the highest acetic acid bacteria and lactic acid bacteria populations compared to the other cultivars. Gluconic acid, glycerol and arabitol was highly correlated to each other. High populations of acetic acid bacteria and lactic acid bacteria also had high levels of gluconic acid and 2,3-butanediol in the grape juice. Meso-inositol differed significantly between the vineyard and weighbridge and it had a high standard deviation compared to the mean value of all the samples between the vineyard and weighbridge. Temperature of grape loads delivered to the cellar ranged from 14 to 36ºC, which had a major impact on the grape quality and the resultant wine. It can be concluded for this study that management of the total value chain is of critical importance to ensure that A-grade grapes results in good quality wine that merits the effort of the grape producer.