Participation in the Unified exhibition was an important indicator of the US wineries’ interest in our products and services, in particular our award-winning LEES-STOP solution
Profile of the region
The Napa Valley is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Napa County, California and the vine-growing area almost matches the geographical boundary of the County. The Napa Valley is considered one of the most important for viticulture regions of the world. Traces of the commercial production of wine in the region date back to the nineteenth century but it was only more recently, in the ‘60s, that the production began of high quality wines. With the exception of the native Zinfandel vine, the viticulture of Napa Valley is entirely based on varieties of French origin. Among the white grapes, about 65% of the vines planted in the area are Chardonnay. Among the other whites are Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, S. Emillon and Gewürztraminer. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most grown red grape in the Napa Valley, accounting for over 50%. The other reds typical of the Valley include Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc and Petite Sirah, the latter grape having no ties with the more famous Syrah typical of the Rhone Valley in France.
Among the most important of the AVA-defined zones in the Napa Valley are Atlas Peak, Stag’s Leap District, Spring Mountain District, Mount Veeder, Howell Mountain, Rutherford and Oakville. The area of Stag’s Leap District, in the southern part of the Valley, has its vineyards at the feet of rocky hills, from which its famous Cabernet Sauvignon wines are produced. Other areas renowned for their Cabernet Sauvignons are Rutherford and Oakville. Among the whites, Chardonnay is certainly the most popular variety, with the best zones being Mount Veeder, Spring Mountain and St. Helena. Other interesting wines are produced with Pinot Noir grapes – in particular in the cooler south – and the Zinfandel, especially in the warmer areas of the north. The Napa Valley defies one-style definition due to the geological diversity and climatic differences of the zone, such variables making each area differ, even significantly, from all the others.
Napa’s noteworthy figures:
- about 700 vintners in the County;
- about 475 wineries in Napa County produce over 1,000 different brands of wine;
- 95% of the wineries of Napa Valley are family-run.
Interest in VLS Technologies’ filtration solutions
Many visitors showed interest in the solutions of VLS Technologies at the latest Unified Grape Symposium trade fair in Sacramento, California – the largest US wine trade fair (see article on p. 2). Arousing much curiosity and interest was the new technology entitled VLS LEES-STOP, a bespoke solution for filtering products with high-solids content as it replaces the classic polymer membranes currently applied to the traditional cross-filters with new, innovative membranes made of sintered stainless steel. Sintering is a heat treatment of the steel powders whereby the high temperatures “weld” the powders to each other by heating them at below their smelting point.
It has been ascertained that this material is perfectly suited to cross-flow filtration in “difficult” products (those having about 70% of suspended solids). The sintering process creates porous surfaces with the typical shape of the tubular membranes typically used in cross-flow filtration systems. Moreover, the shape of the sintered steel ensures high mechanical and chemical resistance giving a high resistance to pressure, thermal shock, mechanical shocks and high-pH-level chemical cleaning – benefits which mean that you get a cross-flow solution with all the long-lasting properties of sintered steel.
Many top-level wineries have expressed their interest in VLE LEES-STOP as the system produces more juice – and therefore wine – which would otherwise be discarded: clearly, a crucial benefit for producers of fine wines.
Partnership with Scott Laboratories
Expansion in the US market was made possible also thanks to the partnership between VLS Technologies and Scott Laboratories, a company which has been serving the needs of US wineries for over eighty years. Scott Laboratories provides companies with a full range of technologies and services, right from the receiving of the grapes through to fermentation, filtration and final bottling.