DOBSON — Surry Community College Enology Instructor David Bower III is hopeful funding will be forthcoming from Raleigh for a new vibrating sorting table for grapes which will improve the quality of wines being produced at the college.
The vibrating and sorting table, a model TRV-35, typically carries a retail price of $25,000. Bower said the school has already submitted the request to the purchase processing department in Raleigh and is waiting on approval. He said he and students of the program are excited about the improvements the table’s sorting system will bring to wine quality.
“Everything (about wine making) is very particular,” Bower said. “Everything is dependent on the style of wine you are making. you must concentrate on every factor in wine. If we get this table it is huge for us. There are a lot of factors including the size and quality of grape such as how hard to crush some grapes and the enzymes you will use. It’s a lot for students to learn and they have to know it to make it in the wine industry.”
He said the table’s consistent ability to sort and clean debris from the grapes is “the definition of quality.” Another benefit of this table for students is that ones like it are widely used in the ever-increasingly complicated industry where they will be expected to know how to run the machines.
“If we get this. This is big time,” Bower said. “The important part (for our students) is to understand the science and not just do it. We want to teach them to make decisions and think long term.” He said the school has also purchased an ozone-on-demand machine. The model is named the “Destroyer” and the ozone it produces will be used to sterilize wine making equipment.
“The sterilization capability of this will increase our quality tenfold,” Bower predicted. “Students can train with equipment which is used by a lot of huge wineries. We want to educate our students so they can improve the quality of wines which will help the industry as well.”
Recently Summit Wine Solutions Owner and Consultant Gray Draughn demonstrated the TRV-35 to students as well as showcasing cutting edge wine making equipment, and he led a discussion on safety.
“Everyone has a different idea on how to sort and set up their process on the crush pad,” said Draughn. He showed students videos of equipment which de-stems grapes without. Other equipment he discussed included machines which use optical sensors and jets of air to process grapes. New equipment used by some wineries includes sorting tables which can be taken to the field where they are loaded directly from hoppers. He said he was concerned by low numbers of sorting tables in use across the state.
“I think the key to fine wine making is to be careful what goes in before fermentation,” said Draughn. “Some of you are going to work at vineyards which have these and some won’t. We’re hoping it will catch on more on the East Coast. I’ve seen systems which even have a stem shredder so waste can be processed and sold as mulch.”
Draughn reminded the students they are working in an environment with powerful machines. He told them to consider they are in close proximity to fork trucks, water and high voltage.
He emphasized making sure safety equipment is in place, electrical plugs match and placing electrical cords where they will not be cut by fork truck tires. Draughn said horseplay should never occur on a crush pad and presses must be leveled.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.