At the occasion of 63rd German Winegrowers’ Association’s Congress, WFT’s CEO, Klaus Deschka was asked a few questions about how digitalisation was changing production processes in wineries across the world.
This interview is translated from german and was first published September. 21th 2018 on the German Winegrowers’ Association’s website . It was conducted by Dr. Rudolf Nickenig for the German Winegrowers’ Association.

How do you evaluate the digital transformation rate in processing and process technology?
I find it great that the chosen theme is digitalization. In the fields of fermentation and process control, it appears to be already well advanced: controlling the course of fermentation from a mobile app, regardless of one’s location has become a natural thing for many of our customers. It is no longer a wish of the younger generation.

How big is the demand in this industry? Are there companies that are still not engaged in the topic at all?
There has been a growing international interest for our fermentation control systems managed by software for a couple of years now. We feel like we recognized this trend very early on. So, a few years ago, we set up the path for digital transformation with some progressive companies. Future-oriented wineries are now gradually following the same path.
Of course, there are still winemakers who cannot quite make peace with it. But the younger winemakers grew up with PCs and smartphones. It is therefore certainly only a matter of time until digitalization is introduced to every cellar.

Are digital process control systems equally important for each size of business?
The size of the company certainly has a certain influence on the degree of digitalization. In recent years, however, we have noticed that in addition to large wineries, more and more small and medium-sized firms want to take advantage of digital fermentation monitoring and process control. We have adapted our product line to this trend. Upon request, our customers can now start step by step, to enter the world of digitalization with relatively low investment costs. It’s a smooth start, allowing companies to delay some investments for their complete digital transformation.

Technical progress is often disruptive. Does it also apply to cellar technology?
we have already seen many technologies come and go in cellar technology. In the field of digitalized process control, the innovation wheels turn particularly fast. Thanks to our ambitious R&D philosophy, we are now at the forefront of the processing and process technology world. to establish further our leading position, we made a new addition to our development team in 2018. And this investment has already paid off. Although we narrowly missed the deadline for submissions to the Innovation Prize, we are presenting a new fermentation control technology at Intervitis. It is revolutionary for the wine industry and raises fermentation monitoring to an even higher level.

Which mood do you expect from visitors at INTERVITIS?
We as a company have been exhibiting at Intervitis for almost 20 years now. When I think back to our beginnings, it is remarkable how the industry changed and how we grew. To be able to present our technological leads to an interested professional audience makes the Intervitis always significant for us. From my point of view, it is important for a successful winery to always be up to date on the latest technologies, whatever its size. It is and will be even more in the future one of the only way to remain competitive. As a result, it is almost mandatory for winemakers to visit an international trade fair such as Intervitis. Anyway, we are very positive and expect a successful intervitis again in Stuttgart in 2018.

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