The Wine Pod Cometh
It's no secret that a huge number of visitors to wine country come away with the idea in their head of how great it would be to make their own wine. Some have visions of owning a winery on Highway 29 in Napa. But most just want to take a shot at bottling their own wine.
For these types there is a pretty large industry that caters to home winemakers. However, the learning curve can be pretty steep. Plus, there's all that equipment to buy.
It's these issues that attracted me to a new product coming to market that makes it easier to learn how to make wine and to actually produce the stuff. It's called the "Wine Pod" from Pro Vina.
The Wine Pod appears to be a blend of high technology applied to home winemaking efforts. The cool looking pod allows the home winemaker to cold soak, crush, and press grapes, ferment them and age the wine. Yet, the pod has a built in wireless network that can hook into your computer where you load the Pro Vina software.
Here's where things get damn cool. The software allows you to monitor the pace of your winemaking efforts while it teaches you the process. But wait, there's more. Built into the software are instructions or "recipes" for producing particular styles of wine. Want your Cab big, fat and fruity? Want your Pinot delicate and silky? How about Chardonnay with a crisp, no-oak character. The Pro Vina software offers instruction on how to achieve this style of wine.
A limited number of Pro Vina units will be produced in 2006 with production ramped up significantly in 2007. Customers are currently E-MAILING the company to get on a waiting list. The estimated cost for a unit is around $2000.00. You can make the equivalent of 5-6 cases of wine in each batch.
The Wine Pod system includes:
• 100 liter tank. About 6 cases of wine per ferment
• Wireless control and monitoring from anywhere
• Whisper quiet temperature control
• Cold soaking
• Ferment at automatically controlled temperatures
• In-situ brix (sugar by weight %), temperature and pH sensors
• Extremely gentle automatic 2-ton melior style press
• Submerged cap-management capable
• Oxygen-free controlled atmosphere
• Winemaking software included
• Color LCD screen with multi-point calibration
• Choice of metallic or wood WinePod tank finishes
• Choice of stone and tile pedestal finishes
• Optional 25 and 50 liter Hungarian, French or American Oak barrel, light to heavy toast
This appears to be a technological improvement in the world of home winemaking. But more important, it delivers accessibility to home winemaking, and this is what I like about the Wine Pod. This is not to say that winemaking is a push-button operation. There's an art to all this, clearly. But I'll say again, whenever you can make a seemingly complex operation easier to get at, when you can make it less expensive and when you can provide a vehicle for education while offering a good deal of fun, I think you are offering something very cool.
It will be interesting to see how this type of product does when it is in mass distribution. However, it strikes me that the Wine Pod is one more way by which wine is being mainstreamed in the American Culture. This is a good thing.