Grapes on vine at vineyard

On-site nitrogen generator saves Maison Gilliard time, money and energy

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Maison Gilliard chose Atlas Copco variable speed drive (VSD) compressors and a nitrogen generator to replace their existing bottled supply, saving £7,500 a year in energy costs alone as well as time and administration, gaining complete control over their wine-making process.

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Maison Gilliard uses Atlas Copco compressors and nitrogen generators for their wine-making process

The tradition Maison Gilliard in Switzerland goes back to the 19th century, with the now famous Dôle des Monts wine. Their passion for wine is reflected in the 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 south-facing terraces spread over the steep hillside: an awe-inspiring landscape that is also ideal for growing high-quality vines. In a combination of modern and traditional techniques, harvesting is done by hand and the grapes are transported by helicopter.

Compressed air and Nitrogen from Atlas Copco helps Maison Gilliard produce high-quality wine

Achieving wine of the highest quality requires a command of the whole production process, which is why the winery handles the whole wine making process in-house, from growing the grapes to bottling. This need for complete control of all variables is also why Gilliard’s wine masters rely on Atlas Copco.

Maison Gilliard has equipped its production site with two Variable Speed Drive (VSD) compressors and a nitrogen generator. Thanks to this installation, the winery has on-site nitrogen and no longer needs to purchase nitrogen in cylinders. The advantages are obvious: Maison Gilliard saves time, money and energy thanks to its on-site nitrogen generation solution.

What role does Nitrogen play in wine making?

Cultivating grapes, harvesting and wine making: the delicate process of producing wine almost 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 nitrogen also plays a part, for two different processes relating to bottling. First, nitrogen is used to force oxygen out from the empty bottles and second, it blankets the filled bottle, helping remove oxidants before capping.

In the past, Maison Gilliard bought bottled nitrogen for their production processes. 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. And we also save on the administration and handling of replacing the bottles and the storage of those nitrogen cylinders.”

Hansueli Pfenniger, wine expert at Maison Gilliard

Compressed air is almost everywhere

At Maison Gilliard, compressed air is mainly for bottling, labelling and sealing bottles.

“All machines in our plant require compressed air, from the depalletiser to the labelling machine”

Roland Crittin, Chief Technology Officer at Maison Gilliard

Most of the compressed air however, is used to operate the large presses of 10 000 litres. Because in wine production the compressed air demand fluctuates enormously, Atlas Copco's VSD compressors are perfect to adapt the air flow to the demand at any time.

“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 realised time savings of 20%”

Roland Crittin, Chief Technology Officer at Maison Gilliard

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