The tradition of the House of Gilliard in Switzerland goes back to the 19th Century, with the today famous Dôle des Monts wine. The winery handles the whole wine making process in-house, from growing the grapes to bottling. Achieving wine of the highest quality requires a command of the whole production process. Gilliard’s wine masters rely on Atlas Copco to help them with this task.
The House of Gilliard has equipped its production site with two Variable Speed Drive (VSD) compressors and a nitrogen generator. Thanks to this installation, the wine house has on-site nitrogen and does no longer need to purchase nitrogen in cylinders. The advantages are obvious: the Gilliard house saves time, money and energy thanks to its on-site nitrogen.
Cultivating grapes, harvesting and wine making: the delicate process of producing wine always ends in bottling, which requires compressed air and nitrogen. The compressed air powers various tools like valves, which are vital when handling liquids. It is much less known that also nitrogen is used, for two different processes. First, nitrogen forces the oxygen from the empty bottles and second, it helps to remove carbon dioxide before capping the bottle. In the past, the Gilliard house bought bottled nitrogen for their production. Now that the winery works with a nitrogen generator connected to a VSD compressor, the company saves time, money and lots of energy. “We estimate that we save 10 000 Swiss Francs (about €7500) annually on energy costs alone,” says wine expert Hansueli Pfenniger. “And we also save on the administration and handling of replacing the bottles and the storage of those nitrogen cylinders”.
Compressed air is mainly used for bottling, labeling and sealing bottles. In fact “all machines in our plant require compressed air, from the depalletizer to the labeling machine,” explains Roland Crittin, chief technology officer at Gilliard. Most of the compressed air however, is used to operate the large presses of 10 000 liters. “These large volumes require considerable power. We replaced our old compressors with new ones from Atlas Copco before the harvest of 2010. With these new compressors, we have realized time savings of 20%.” In wine production, the compressed air demand fluctuates enormously, so Atlas Copco VSD compressors are perfect to adapt the air flow to the demand at any time.
The house of Gilliard’s passion for wine is reflected in its vineyards, which stretch out over 50 ha of terraces. The vines are lined up on the mid-slope of the Rhone’s right bank, between Sion and Lienne at an altitude between 550 and 680m. The vineyard resembles a mosaic of terraces spread over the steep hillside: an awe-inspiring landscape. These terraces face south, which makes them ideal for growing high-quality vines. Harvesting is done manually and the grapes are transported by helicopter.