Vitispec

 ATR-infrared spectroscopy-based monitoring system for wine fermentation

The wine industry, which is made up of thousands of SMEs and family business, is an important contributor to the EU economy, providing countless jobs in vine cultivation and harvesting, wine production, bottling and distribution. However, the sector faces severe problems. Consumption is down, and exports from the New World are making huge inroads into the market. Over the last decade, imports have grown by 10% per annum, while exports are only increasing slowly. On current trends, excess wine production will reach 15% of annual production by 2010/11.

The modern wine industry needs tools for process control and quality assessment in order to better manage the fermentation process, which is critical in determining the ultimate quality of red wine. During fermentation, it is important to measure both substrate and product concentrations (sugars, phenolic compounds, etc.). However, analysis of these compounds by traditional means requires sample preparation, and in some cases several purification steps, proving time-consuming, laborious and prone to human error, while offering no real-time data. To this end, this project aims to develop an affordable, reliable on-line tool for the rapid monitoring of red wine fermentation. Novel inspection techniques will be researched to determine their potential for predicting critical wine fermentation parameters.

A prototype VITISPEC on-line monitoring system will be designed, developed and tested in a modern wine making facility and calibrated against existing methods. The results of this project will add real value to EU wine producers by raising the quality standards and consistency of their wine, strengthening Europe’s position as a leading wine-producing region of the world and safeguarding the growth of many rural economies across EU-27.

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