The team at Brassfield Estate shares their experience moving to a different winery management software solution and why they decided to come back to InnoVint.
Brassfield Estate is located in Clearlake Oaks, CA, 3000 ft. above sea level on the western section of High Valley, an old belt volcano.
Purchased in 1973 as what was once originally a cattle ranch and wildlife preserve, it is no surprise Brassfield Estate is still home to various wildlife, including turkey, mountain lions, and even the occasional bear family which frequents the estate’s pool.
The estate began planting grapes in 2001, which now make up about 3000 acres of the property. These particular grapes are known for their thicker skins, bold flavors, and high-density profiles, attributed to the elevation and young soil rich from volcanic ash. Such grapes yield award-winning wines, such as their Sauvignon Blanc and Rosé.
The InnoVint team sat down with Brassfield Estate to understand what caused them to make a change in winery software from vintrace to InnoVint.
The team, led by head winemaker, Carlos Valadez, told us about problems they had after stepping away from InnoVint for a short time due to a change in winemaking leadership.
And though they realized their mistake early on, they couldn’t switch back until after the 2020 harvest, making for a tough season.
“At first, the software that we switched to looked great…but then once we started doing the work, putting in weight tags, and trying to do work orders, we decided it was more work than it was worth. We realized that we had switched away from InnoVint at a terrible time…just a couple of months before we started picking’” says Joy Tackett, Production Assistant.
The Brassfield team continued to share the issues they encountered after switching systems right before harvest. As you can imagine, it was time-consuming.
“The previous software was tough to learn. I was the main data entry person,” says Joy.
However, this wasn’t a welcomed responsibility. “I wasn’t supposed to be a data entry person, but I had to take on that responsibility.”
She continued: “I did a lot of training to be able to learn how to use the main features for harvest. I was constantly asking the team how to use it.” She needed to take time away from her regular work duties to learn a complex wine management software system.
“It was almost a full-time job for me… I could hardly go out to the cellar and do anything…working with the system for like 35 hours per week, almost the whole day..”
“Once I learned how to use it better, which took several months… and was in the middle of harvest, it took maybe half my time. But we still had confusion. We still had to talk to accounting a lot, which was time-consuming.”
“There was a “steep learning curve,” added Megan Anderson, Lab Manager. The explanation can be summed up in an all too familiar phrase; time is money. And the more time the team spent inputting data or learning that more complex system, the more money they wasted. In fact, they were wasting so much time, they even thought about hiring more employees, which would have made the monetary loss all the more tangible.
There was a simple solution to their problem; they could switch back to InnoVint, which they did the first chance they got.
“InnoVint makes the job simpler, instead of adding complexity where we didn’t need it. It lets us do our jobs,” says Joy. “We don’t have to spend all day figuring out how we need to use the program because It’s obvious. So we can go make wine. That’s why when we switched back, it was effortless to step in and start using the program immediately.”
So by readopting InnoVint, Carlos, Megan, Joy, and the rest of the team at Brassfield were able to save themselves time. This allowed them to get back to their actual jobs, crafting superior wine for Brassfield, and focusing on quality and attention to detail, instead of record keeping.
After a year of forest fires and the Covid pandemic, saving time and money was particularly important, which forced their tasting rooms to close. However, despite these setbacks, Brassfield Estate was able to get back on track, and they just reopened their tasting rooms on Memorial Day (2021)
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