Located about 30 miles south of Nashville, Arrington Vineyards has been producing award-winning wines since 2007. The winery has grown into a 25,000 case operation bottling 20 different wines annually.
Arrington Vineyards is a local treasure, with frequent live bluegrass performances and Tennessee BBQ served on their 100-acre property. Their Frosé (frozen rosé) by the glass program has grown from one to four margarita machines on-site. Winemaker Chase Vienneau has been there since nearly the beginning.
While consistently delivering high-quality wine is always tricky, Tennessee presents unique challenges to Vienneau and his team. Local varieties such as Chambourcin and Vignoles must endure very wet, humid summers, even dealing with hurricanes’ remnants. Six inches (150mm) of rain fell on their vineyard in August alone, feeding microbes, weeds, and pests such as black rot, sour rot, botrytis, and the grape berry moth. While many hybrid varieties thrive in humid climates, others such as Vidal Blanc tend to crack open. Also, they roll out 22 miles of bird netting each season to prevent bird damage. Vienneau put it simply, “it’s like a jungle growing all the time.”Vinifera varieties such as Cabernet, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc are sourced from the West Coast, creating a logistics challenge to optimally harvest and transport fruit (reds) and juice (whites) from 2,000 miles away. Vienneau and his team have great relationships with grape brokers who understand their needs, but scheduling picking and delivery are still tricky.
vintrace users since 2012, Arrington has accumulated substantial and easily reportable data about grape conditions, Brix changes, and tonnages. Comparing the current season with vintrace generated historical reports, Vienneau now makes more accurate harvest date and tonnage estimates than his local growers. vintrace’s Tank Schedule module lets Vienneau allocate space for the complex West Coast deliveries. vintrace informs him that West Tennessee grapes will arrive two weeks before his local fruit, adding “I can roll through the years and schedule better each year.” And over those eight years, Vienneau appreciates that vintrace has continuously improved its software to keep up with his changing needs.
vintrace’s new phone app lets Lab Manager Eric Ragel enter notes regarding grape and vineyard conditions directly to his phone while he is in the vineyard, commenting that “you make the note when and where it happens.” And those notes or pictures are easily searchable.
While Arrington first used vintrace to provide specific wine costing more accurately, it now helps to assure wine quality and consistency. As Ragel explains, “The biggest challenge is having so many different wines, lots, tanks and barrels. Is something going to get missed? Like an alarm clock, vintrace tells us when to do lab work, top barrels, or perform other tasks for all of our wines. It can estimate SO2 levels even if you haven’t tested it.” vintrace work orders explain how to do the job as well as what to do. Ragel enjoys the peace of mind that comes with a robust system like vintrace. “I can go home, leave it, and it’s all there in the cloud. No misplaced lab books. And I can access it from anywhere, at any time.”
As a final note on how vintrace improves wine quality, Vienneau says, “I can focus more time on the wine, and not so much writing and typing.”
At Arrington, they started by focusing on costing, including grapes, packaging, and additives. The vintrace team assisted with set-up and continues to provide excellent technical support for eight years. Someone in California or Australia has always been available to help, including in person.
Vienneau recommends new users start in January, as “you have time to set it up correctly, and there are fewer daily transactions to enter than during harvest.”
TTB audits are typically both terrifying and a time drain. Before using vintrace, Arrington did what all wineries without robust, centralized management software do. They logged all wine, volumes, movements and losses, and lab analyses into binders or excel spreadsheets. If TTB came around to do an audit, the winemaking team had to slog through all those spreadsheets, logbooks, and other paperwork to produce the needed documentation.
Vienneau explains that “with vintrace, it’s so much easier. All auditor inquiries about weigh tags, grape and vintage composition, losses, and growers are quickly and easily answered. If you get audited, all you have to do is click some buttons to get a report, and send an email back to the TTB. That’s fruit to bottling reports, and everything in between.” Vienneau said that after a recent audit, the TTB auditor joked that “I’m gonna come back and audit you guys every year, it was so easy.”
Chase Vienneau, Winemaker
Arrington Vineyards, Arrington, Tennessee
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