Wine Grenade bad fit for Marlborough

Wine Grenade chief executive Hamish Elmslie says his device will save winemakers time and money.
CHRIS SKELTON/FAIRFAX NZ

Wine Grenade chief executive Hamish Elmslie says his device will save winemakers time and money.

A new invention is set to revolutionise the wine industry, but it is unlikely to cause much of an explosion in Marlborough.

The handheld device, dubbed the Wine Grenade, is designed to accelerate the ageing process of wine by adding oxygen so that vintages can reach the table faster.

It promises to cut back the two-year ageing wait to just six months and will also save tens of thousands of dollars by eliminating the cost of shipping barrels from overseas and other production costs.

However, Wine Marlborough manager Marcus Pickens said he did not think the Wine Grenade would be a big hit in Marlborough.

The device, which was being trialled in the Hawke's Bay, was targeted at wine producers making red wines, especially Bordeaux-style wine.

Last vintage, only 6 per cent of wine produced in Marlborough was pinot noir, with other red varieties making up less than 1 per cent, Pickens said.

He did not anticipate much demand for the product in Marlborough.

Ara Wines winemaker Jeff Clarke had not heard of the device, but said if it were like other micro-oxygenation systems, it would be orientated towards lower price producers.

"It probably works perfectly fine but you won't get the same result as if it were produced in high-end, French-oak barrels," he said.

Nautilus winemaker and winery manager Clive Jones said the winery experimented with micro-oxygenation in the past but moved back to using barrels. 

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Some winemakers would welcome the device but there was a shift back to more traditional techniques, he said.

Wine Grenade was the brainchild of five Auckland University students, Hamish Elmslie, Jonathan Boswell, Philip Cockrell, Jorg Kampschreur and Mike Moore, who completed their Masters of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship.

In 2014, the group won the Spark $100k Challenge, the university's Dragon's Den-style business competition which helped them get their project off the ground.

Elmslie said Wine Grenade challenged traditional ways of ageing wine by introducing oxygen into wine faster.

"There is two ways that winemakers can mature wines - the traditional way is through the use of the oak barrels, but the barrels themselves are really expensive and it can take a really lengthy time to mature a wine," he said.

"They can also use micro-oxygenation systems, but those carry a really high up-front cost. The difference with Wine Grenade is that it's a simple handheld device which puts the process of micro-oxygenation within reach of all winemakers by removing the cost and complexity that exists today."

 - The Marlborough Express

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