Outpost is an ultra-premium winery in Angwin, California. The winery was established in 1998 with the vision of producing wines that are a living, breathing representation of the 28 acre estate vineyard. Outpost crafts 100% varietal bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah and Grenache. Under winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown’s leadership, the grapes are harvested late in the season and processed with as little manipulation as possible. Each block is fermented separately so the winemaking team can be ultra-selective about the lots that comprise the final blends.
In addition to the Estate program, the winery also crafts wines for alternating proprietors and custom crush clients.
Prior to InnoVint, Outpost was relying on Excel and paper to manage operations and day-to-day workflow. “Work orders” were done on printed and handwritten lists, and harvest tasks were verbal and paper-based. Lab analysis and activity logs were kept in Excel sheets, and data was input by hand, usually on a monthly basis. To add further complexity, Outpost not only crafts wines for the estate program but also a group of alternating proprietors and custom crush clients. Managing inventory and information across clients was difficult with their existing record-keeping practices.
The Outpost team felt the production software options on the market were too big, too costly and did not meet their needs. They desired a tool that catered to ultra-premium, small lot producers. In 2015, the Outpost team believed that InnoVint could be that solution to satisfy the needs of the small to medium-size producer. Their goal was to find a workflow productivity tool that made the team effective data trackers, enabling them to invest more time in crafting the wine rather than managing spreadsheets. A mobile component was essential, and optimizing the most cumbersome processes, fermentation and harvest workflow, was of the upmost importance.
One of the biggest aspects of changing systems for the winemaking team was making sure the entire team bought into the new platform. A point person was identified to be the internal champion for InnoVint, and they were responsible for mirroring the inventory, workflow and to be committed to discovering new ways of adding value throughout the year. Investing time into this and utilizing best practices with client data has allowed InnoVint to be embraced across the entire staff.
“We are spending significantly less time on data-entry and digging through files and emails.”
Since implementing InnoVint, the Outpost team has seen the greatest benefit with access to data and communication across all levels of staff. “The combination of real-time and historical data on a cloud-based platform has been amazingly useful for timely decisions during harvest, reporting on previous events in a wines’ life, and reliable data for clients, owners, and sales staff” says Giannini.
InnoVint is that daily resource that drives all decision-making
Daily workflows are driven by InnoVint data. All interns get login credentials to InnoVint so they can be assigned work orders, see historical data on wines, and work with the inventory. It’s at least a daily if not an hourly tool.
The assistant winemaker and cellar master review InnoVint data at the start of every day. During non-harvest time, digital work orders for toppings, rackings and additions are assigned based on recent analysis and reporting. During harvest, the assistant winemaker assigns pumpovers, punchdowns, additions and analysis work orders for AM and PM rounds using InnoVint’s Fermentation Work Order Generator. Fruit is received and weight tags are created with InnoVint, and the Cellar Master uses the iPad to organize barrel-downs, pressing, inventory, transfers and barrel fermentations.
With better visibility of their inventory and access to a mobile-driven system with real-time data, the team was more effective with their time across the Estate program and client winemaking.
Giannini states, “[With InnoVint] we save 5-10 hours a week during non-harvest weeks and an easy 15 hours during harvest/post-harvest. I would argue that there are other less-quantifiable time savings as well, such as eliminating trips back to the office to check the spreadsheet, phone calls from the owner, a compliance person looking for a specific number, or how many file folders were flipped through.”
In terms of improving wine quality, “it makes it a lot harder for wines to get away from you, in the sense that the number of reports and ease of seeing trends in analysis can identify issues on the early end. We always have strived for the best in wine quality, and InnoVint helps us achieve that goal by removing an entire layer of headache and busy work.”
Giannini admits that they were initially skeptical that InnoVint could deliver on their lofty goals, but the dedication to progress, innovation, and functionality has created a tool “so powerful for our winery that we can’t imagine life without it.”
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DATA TRANSPARENCY AND CELLAR EFFICIENCIES