(L-R) Andrew Holdback Vinpac International, Ash Giles Vinpac International, Nathan Ruwoldt Vinpac Interantional, Greg Edwards Vinpac International, Paul Bowyer Blue H2O Filtration, Wayne Shub Blue H2O Filtration, Steve Brunato Blue H2O Filtration


An innovative partnership between Blue H2O Filtration and specialist wine packager Vinpac International has elevated these Australian companies to winning status in the inaugural National Wine Industry Impact Awards. The Awards, presented at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide on 20 October, showcased excellence in improving the capability and competitiveness of the Australian grape and wine industry.

Twenty-two worthy nominations were received for awards in six categories with entries short-listed to twelve finalists, some of which were presented as partnership submissions. The award categories are grape growing, wine making, packaging, distribution and logistics, marketing and communications and tourism.
The joint submission from Blue H2O Filtration and Vinpac International was in the packaging category. The relationship between the two companies began in 2011 when Blue H2O won the contract to supply filtration needs for Vinpac International.

“As part of our ongoing continuous improvement plan, we went to market looking for innovative filtration products that would have minimum impact on customers’ products, while being effective at performing their designed task,” said Greg Edwards, Group Technical Manager for Vinpac International.

2011 was a challenging year for the industry, as late rains saw botrytis affect many grape growing regions. When wine is made from botrytis-affected fruit, the potential for blocking of filtration media increases, due to the presence of soluble macromolecules, such as polysaccharides.

Vinpac International recognised this issue early in the season, and advised the industry about a deficiency in the traditional measurement of turbidity, colloquially known as NTU, to determine the extent of potential filtration blockage from soluble macromolecules, and the need to instead use a filterability index measurement.

The company believed the filterability index measurement technique was limited in its application as it was labour intensive and did not provide enough information to assist in making appropriate decisions.
Dr Paul Bowyer, Regional Manager SA for Blue H2O Filtration, said: “To address Vinpac International’s concerns regarding the filterability technique, we identified a reliable and user-friendly filterability apparatus that was semi-automated and provided more information than the traditional apparatus.
“We assisted during the development of the methodology and subsequent validation, including the identification of other risk factors to the filterability of a wine, such as the presence of wine additives like carboxy methyl cellulose, or CMC.”

Implementation of the semi-automated filterability apparatus allowed Vinpac International to reliably assess the filterability of all wines destined for sterile filtration, giving customers a higher degree of confidence that any potential filtration blockage issues were identified prior to packaging.

The companies continue to maintain a collaborative partnership regarding filterability measurement with Blue H2O using its knowledge and experience as suppliers to industry, and Vinpac International applying its knowledge and experience as contract packager to numerous customers across Australia and New Zealand.
This partnership has included sharing observations and testing theories, collaborating with a university research student, and publishing several articles in industry publications.

The results of this collaboration culminated in presentations by Dr Bowyer and Mr Edwards at a workshop on filtration at the 16th Australian Wine Industry Technical Conference in Adelaide in July 2016.
The partnership between these companies has produced many positive outcomes. Through their collaboration, they have increased the awareness of the filterability technique in the Australian wine industry, and the knowledge about wines and processing treatments likely to cause filtration issues.

The process has been adopted by other wineries and packaging facilities within the Australian wine industry. The dissemination of this intellectual property has even drawn global interest with several overseas companies contacting Blue H2O Filtration and Vinpac International for information on the process.

The judges of the Wine Industry Impact Awards, including eminent people from the Australian wine sector, and associated business leaders, described the filterability analysis methodology collaboratively developed and implemented by Blue H2O Filtration and Vinpac International as “a clever and sophisticated approach to a problem by looking at it from a completely different and non-traditional perspective.”

The presentation of the Wine Industry Impact Awards, an initiative of Wine Industry Suppliers Australia (WISA), brought together about 300 industry leaders from across the country.

For further information contact:
Dr Paul Bowyer, Blue H2O Filtration on 0401 446 119/paul@blueh2o.com.au
Mr Greg Edwards, Vinpac International on 0439 755 004/greg.edwards@vinpac.com.au