Makers story

Beyond One-Size-Fits-All: Hill-Smith Family Estates Discovers the Power of Purpose-Built Technology

Hill-Smith Family Estates

Across six generations, the Hill-Smith Family has evolved from pioneering grape growers and winemakers to a global wine company integrated through vine cultivation, wine growing, wine making, and international distribution, with a diverse portfolio of world-renowned wine brands and vineyard sites across esteemed wine regions, including Barossa, Limestone Coast, Riverland, Tasmania, and Marlborough.

In an intentional shift, they’ve upscaled their production strategy by implementing InnoVint as their winery operating system. This transition was part of a pivotal change to embrace purpose-built, modern technology to advance operations across their wine business from dirt to shelf.

The Challenge

Legacy Systems and the Need for Modernization

Facing the reality of their legacy wine production software nearing end of life, Hill-Smith Family Estates (HSFE) recognized they needed technology to meet their current and future needs.

Brent Jones, COO and Executive Director of Operations at HSFE, elaborates:

For 175 years, Hill-Smith Family Estates has retained a commitment to fine winemaking, with a strong pedigree of excellence in the vineyard, and in the winery… it was clearly apparent that our existing systems would no longer suffice as we embraced modern ways of working across all aspects of the diverse business.

HSFE aimed to upgrade its outdated systems with software capable of growing and adapting with them. John Ide, Group Wineries and Operations Manager at HSFE, further explains the urgency of this situation: “As we approached a critical juncture with our existing systems, it became clear that we needed a solution that could adapt to our evolving needs.” 

Initial Pain Points:

  • Inefficiencies and limitations of legacy systems
  • Challenges in accessing and integrating crucial winery data
  • Need for scalable, adaptable operations and workflows to accommodate growth


The Core Requirements

HSFE was seeking a modern and reliable software partner. Not just to match the current capabilities of their existing systems but technology that allowed them to continue producing the wines valued most by their business and customers. Brent Jones details the selection criteria:

“Our evaluation process was to ensure we could cover the core critical capabilities of our existing solution. Most significantly, we would find a partner who could demonstrate to us that innovation was at the center of their culture and would join us on a journey of evolution.”

Another key requirement in their search for wine production software was centralized, accessible information. John Ide explains this further:

“We needed to have easily accessible information stored in a central database from “Dirt to Bottle,” as our project is titled. Additionally, having an integrated costing module was a key point of inclusion that we required for any new software.”

The Solution

Selecting the Right Enterprise Partner: InnoVint

Recognizing the need for a modern and adaptable technology solution, HSFE began a search for the perfect software partner. Their search led them to InnoVint, a winery operations software that stood out for its forward-thinking approach and understanding of the complex challenges faced by wineries of their size.

Not only did InnoVint meet the core functional requirements, but its modern, 100% API-based technology architecture enabled seamless and scalable integration with complementary systems and technologies. The HSFE team has been able to integrate and build custom solutions leveraging InnoVint’s REST APIs to connect previously disjointed processes, like communications with growers and enhanced BI reporting.

John Ide explains the critical factors behind their choice:

InnoVint stood out as the most technologically advanced option. Its modern codebase, especially the ready-made APIs, played a crucial role in our choice. This forward-thinking approach assured us of InnoVint’s compatibility with other systems, which is essential in a wine business as diverse as ours. We recognized that a one-size-fits-all solution is seldom effective for an enterprise of our scale, so InnoVint’s flexibility for external integration, either new or existing, was a decisive factor.


A Smooth Transition

The transition to InnoVint was ambitious, especially considering the three-month deadline for complete data migration. Yet, InnoVint facilitated a smooth and uninterrupted operation during this time. John Ide elaborates on the transition experience:

“Despite the tight turnaround, InnoVint’s solution brought clarity and efficiency, ensuring we didn’t miss a beat in our daily operations during this critical transition. The willingness of the InnoVint team to come on the journey with us and support our needs has been excellent.

What sets them apart is the comprehensive knowledge of their product from both operational and technical perspectives. Our InnoVint account manager’s expertise, particularly in understanding the nuances of winemaking and software, has been invaluable. It’s rare to find a team that can so effectively translate our specific requirements into solutions tailored to our needs.”

Key Benefits:

  • Empowered winery teams with a single source of truth and easy access to key winery data
  • Improved production efficiency and inventory management accuracy with a digital workflow
  • Adaptable software and ready-made APIs to support a fully integrated, scalable solution
  • Invaluable access to an experienced team adept in both winemaking and software, ensuring a successful implementation and long-term trusted partnership


HSFE and InnoVint’s Continued Partnership

Looking to the future, HSFE is optimistic about the benefits of this partnership. John shares, “Looking post-vintage 2024, we are excited to fully utilize InnoVint’s capabilities, especially the costing module to provide clear differentiation between products. This will enable better decision-making across the production side of the business due to more aligned data that is easier to access.” Brent Jones concludes with a forward-looking perspective:

“In the InnoVint team, we found genuine passion and purpose, and a desire to improve our commitment to quality, and to our people’s satisfaction in their roles.”


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