Discover Quality Equipment | Doing It Right Where It Counts
Like many crafts, the process of turning fruit into wine relies on the marriage of talent and tools. As a dedicated oenophile, Seven Apart founder Don Dady understood that high-quality tools are a critical ingredient in the recipe for world-class wines. It’s why he spared no expense when outfitting our cellar with equipment after acquiring the property in 2018. “Don’s philosophy is that if you’re going to do something, you must do it properly, or not at all,” explains Yannick Girardo, Seven Apart’s Managing Partner. “He wanted our winemaking facility to feature the most advanced technology and the finest equipment available so that we could have greater control over the incoming fruit.” To offer more insight into the relationship between cellar machinery and wine quality, Yannick opens a window into Seven Apart’s winemaking world and discusses top-tier tools’ role in crafting premium Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Tools That Distinguish Our Trade
Don’s go-big-or-go-home philosophy is immediately evident when you step into Seven Apart’s state-of-the-art production facility. For every stage of the winemaking process, there is a sophisticated device dedicated to the pursuit of perfection.
In the front section of the cellar, an optical sorter is the grapes’ first encounter with technology. This cutting-edge machine uses advanced algorithms and imaging techniques to meticulously sort through the incoming fruit and pick out only the best of the bunch based on predefined criteria. “The optical sorter is definitely a huge asset,” says Yannick. “It allows us to get granular during harvest and select the finest quality fruit that we have available to us.” This equipment is especially valuable when Mother Nature throws a curveball, as she so often does. For example, when the heatwave of 2022 wreaked havoc on the vineyards, the team could turn to the optical sorter to identify grapes that still met exacting standards, minimizing loss.
Our pneumatic press, used to extract the last drops of juice from the grape pulp after fermentation, is in the same part of the facility. The press applies gentle but precise pressure to the fruit – carefully controlled and configured digitally — to draw out the desired levels of tannins, sugar, and flavor compounds for the finished wine.
Seven Apart has also invested in state-of-the-art temperature-controlled tanks to perfect the fermentation process — the star of the show in our cellar’s midsection. Sophisticated technology allows for the scrupulous management of conditions within the tank to ensure optimal fermentation. “From a touchscreen, we have full access to each individual tank and can monitor and manipulate every detail,” Yannick explains. “We can see the level of CO2 extraction, the temperature when the glycol system kicks in, even the CO2 level in the room.” The fermentation tanks also feature an automated pump-over system that circulates the fermenting juice through the machine to promote flavor extraction. “It’s set up the same way it would be if done manually,” elaborates Yannick. “A hose is connected from the bottom to the top of the tank and a motor pumps out the juice automatically, then splashes it back over the skin cap. This happens several times a day and the frequency is programmed into the system.”
Of course, no winery would be complete without tools to aid the final winemaking stage: the aging process. To contribute to the character and complexity of the wine, Seven Apart makes use of premium French oak barrels for maturation, adding the final flourish to our high-end equipment inventory.
Why Does Quality Equipment Matter?
When Don invested a small fortune in this selection of top-tier technology, he did so because he knew something many don’t: high-quality equipment isn’t just a tool — it’s an invaluable addition to the team. Superior equipment automates many activities that would otherwise be done by hand, freeing up the winemaker to focus on tasks that require skill and intuition. This eliminates the risk of human error and makes the winemaking process much more efficient, saving time and preventing delays that could impact the wine’s quality.
“The automated fermentation tanks, for example, save us a tremendous amount of time,” asserts Yannick. “This is critical, especially when you’re a small team like us and don’t have a lot of manpower. It means we’re free to concentrate on the fruit itself.”
Thanks in part to automation, high-end tools also allow for enhanced control over every aspect of the production process. The team can carefully manipulate the selection criteria of the optical sorter, the pressure of the press, the temperature of the fermentation tanks, and even the humidity in the barrel room — all to create the ideal conditions for winemaking. With such extreme precision, it’s possible to safeguard the quality and stability of the wine and craft Cabernet Sauvignons with highly specific characteristics.
What’s more, with greater control comes the promise of consistency — the mark of a world-class winery. Through the micromanagement of every detail, we can avoid inconsistencies in production. This way, we succeed in providing Seven Apart patrons with the same fine flavor profiles — the same outstanding quality — batch after batch and bottle after bottle.
Of course, the direct impact that quality equipment can have on a wine’s character also shouldn’t be ignored. Our high-grade barrels are a good example. Imbued with natural compounds that interact with the wine, French oak imparts desirable flavors and aromas to our Cabernet Sauvignons, polishing their tannins and contributing to their structure, complexity, and depth — qualities often associated with superior wines.
While adding to the wine’s quality, state-of-the-art machinery also ensures that nothing detracts from it. “Maintaining cleanliness is essential to avoid contamination and spoilage,” explains Yannick. As high-end equipment is easier to clean and sanitize than lower-quality alternatives, it plays a critical role in promoting cellar hygiene and preserving the integrity of the wine.
Finally, like all sound purchases, quality equipment tends to be more durable and reliable. Even minor interruptions in the winemaking process can be detrimental to the finished product. As a result, reliable machinery becomes an invaluable asset. The dependability and longevity of high-grade tools also curtail the need for extensive maintenance, repair, or replacement. So although Seven Apart’s initial investment was significant, the reduction in costs over the long term — and the positive impact on our craft — makes every cent worth it.
Doing It Right In The Cellar
Equipment might not be as romantic as terroir or as mysterious as topography. But it’s easy to see why our founder identified top-tier tools as one of the seven elements that distinguish Seven Apart.
As the great Henry Ford once said, “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” Don Dady also knew that if he “did it right” behind the scenes — within the pristine walls of our cellar — the results would be evident where it matters most: in the bottle.