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Software for the winery and vineyard.

Running a successful winery exceeds the responsibility of growing healthy grapes, producing good wine and selling attractive bottles in tasting rooms and retail shops. With it comes a slew of tasks like record keeping, data tracking, accounting, shipping and government reporting. For some wineries, particularly larger ones, managing these necessary operations by pencil and paper can be an overwhelming, burdening and nearly impossible chore. Bring forth computers and state-of-the-art software, and you have what can be an easier and more efficient way to manage a winery's operations.

Fortunately, various companies produce software for wineries to make the essential tasks less intimidating. Wines & Vines surveyed a few to uncover what services they offer.

Blend Winery Software

Blend Winery Software (BWS), a company that "develops and markets software for managing production and back office operations in the wine industry," offers two software systems. The PC-Blend bulk wine tracking system covers all functions of wine production, from harvest to bottling, such as tracking fermentation, wine movement, blending and additions. "(The PC-Blend system) also has a full cost accounting component to track the costs of individual additions, overhead and grapes," said President Doug Campbell, who started BWS in 1990. "When you sell the wine to somebody, you can tell the exact composition down to a hundredth of a gallon."

Modules available for the PC-Blend system created to interface with the PC-Blend software include a barrel bar coding system, which "provides an automated link to a scanner used to track cellar activities"; packaged goods system module, which tracks packing materials such as corks, glass, capsules and materials used in wine production; custom crush system, which produces invoices for custom crush accounts; and a grower management module for writing multi-year grower contracts.

The Sales and Distribution system "is a winery specific solution for tracking all activities involved with the inventory of finished goods."

The system, which has a full accounts receivable system built in, tracks the inventory of case goods into various warehouses, has a full-order entry system for selling wine directly or to distributors and tracks all sales activities including allocations, payment and invoices.

The full PC-Blend software costs $17,500 and the PC-Blend Lite program, a single-user version, runs $9,800. The Sales and Distribution system costs $16,900. A three or five year lease purchase of the software is also available.

Currently, BWS is revamping its PC-Blend software, and the updated version will be released at the end of the year. "We're adding a lot of new features into that release," Campbell said.

BWS software is sold with first-year support included, and customers receive "personalized, onsite installation and in-depth training," Campbell wrote in an e-mail response.

BWS customers include Joseph Phelps, Silverado Vineyards, Louis Martini (BWS' first customer), Fess Parker, Golan Heights Winery in Israel, King Estate, Hogue Cellars, Geyser Peak and smaller operations such as Pietra Santa.

Case goods production ranges between 5,000 and 2 million.

For more information on BWS, contact Blend Winery Software, P.O. Box 4807, Petaluma, Calif. 949554807, phone (707) 765-9378, fax (707) 769-8484 or visit the Web site blendwinerysoftware.com.

Breckenridge Software Technologies, Inc.

Breckenridge Software Technologies, Inc. (BSTI), which started writing software in 1987, offers various modules including a vineyard management module, geared toward tracking all activities that take place in the vineyard from the growing season until harvest such as pruning, irrigation and yield projections of vineyards; an inventory module, which tracks grapes through the entire production process, tracking tests, additions, histories, blends, fermentation, barrels, costs and does reporting for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF); and the order processing module, which tracks club activities, spot orders, shipping documents, invoicing and traditional accounting functions. A grape-receiving module is also available.

"All modules are designed to integrate together, but are available independently," explained Bart Stroebel, BSTI's vice president of sales. "They can be used on a single computer or on a network to virtually any size."

BSTI's software is written in Microsoft Access, which Stroebel says is "a very open architecture." The software is also available in DOS format, and a SQL server is available for large-end networks. BSTI plans to release a major upgrade to its current software this month, and is currently developing a web-based system for small wineries and wineries with multiple locations wishing to have an integrated system.

BSTI support benefits include training onsite, in a classroom, or via modem or telephone. Support services are available daily by telephone or modem, and maintenance is available for an optional annual fee.

Cost varies, according to the number of users and modules. The most basic service with the inventory module on a single computer runs $5,000.

BSTI has 200 clients using its software, 25 of which are wineries, ranging in size from small to large. According to Stroebel, case production ranges "all over the map."

For more information on BSTI, contact Breckenridge Software Technologies, Inc., P.O. Box 3584, Littleton, Colo. 80161, phone (303) 267-0024, fax (303) 290-9144 or visit the Web site breckenridgesoftware.com

Modular Information Systems

Modular Information Systems (MIS) is the North American distributor of Total Systems for Management (TSM) Vintage Complete Winery Management software. Originally developed in Australia and refined to U.S. and Canadian standards by MIS, TSM Vintage is "a fully integrated system that manages the winemaking process from vineyard performance and receipts to sales and distribution," Patrick Shabram, manager of sales and marketing, said in an e-mail. Some winery tools available in the software include grower contracts and payments, cellar works order, barrel tracking and bar coding, laboratory analysis, vineyard information, composition and wine tracking, operational and storage costing, and BATF compliance reporting. Software can be tailored to meet the needs of the winery.

Currently, MIS is developing a new version of its software with improved graphical user interface and is making improvements on its tasting room module.

Developed in Australia, the tasting room module is a point-of-sales system that interfaces with the sales and distribution module. "It will update inventory and deplete inventory out of your warehouse locations," MIS President Lisa Corbett explained. "It will also give a daily recap of what was sold and appropriate reports to see what inventory is moving out of the tasting room." MIS hopes to release the module in January.

The cost of the software varies, depending on the number of users and the different modules desired. According to Shabram, typical installation costs roughly $10,000. The software runs on Microsoft NT, Windows 2000 or SCO UNIX and customers need to purchase a server.

Support benefits include onsite training, a help desk, upgrades, an updated crush manual, crush training and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during crush.

Currently, TSM Vintage is installed in over 40 wineries worldwide with an annual production range between 30,000 cases to over 1 million cases. Customers include Biltmore Estate Winery, Southcorp Wines and Golden State Vintners.

"I like it a lot, and it works very well," said Bernard Delille, winemaker at Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. "I use it mainly for the pedigree of the wine and for the cost of the wine, but it has a lot of features." Delille added that he finds the software easy to use.

For more information on MIS and TSM Vintage, contact Modular Information Systems, 3160 Crow Canyon Place, Ste. 100, San Ramon, Calif. 94583, phone (925) 244-5930, e-mail sales@miscorp.com or visit the Web site miscorp.com.

Vintage Consulting Group

Vintage Consulting Group (VCG), established in 1981, offers an integrated software system with various applications and modules.

"We have a fairly large suite of applications," VCG President Jay Hall explained. Applications include Sales Management, the core of VCG's winery applications, with features such as advanced distributor and wholesales sales reporting, allocation management, sales reporting, case goods inventory and BATF compliant integrated case goods inventory; Consumer Direct, which manages retail sales, completes customer sales history, does retail market analysis, and has an integrated shipping system with UPS, FedEx and other delivery companies; Wine Tracking, which manages and maintains cellar operations, analyzes bulk inventory and controls the flow of work to cellar staff, corrects historical errors and recalculates final blends; Wine Warehousing, which maintains storing customers, customizes billing of freight, wine storage, bottling, etc., and is compliant with BATF reporting and Excise Tax; and Trade Accounts Management, which manages the distributor/broker sales force.

"We've written a program that is very specific to an industry, and it's quite intuitive," Hall added. Written in a Windows environment, Hall describes VCG's software as an "open system." "It's easy to link data from our program to other databases, such as spread sheets and word processing."

VCG is currently working on Web-based Reporting, which will allow customers to access data in their system from anywhere in the world.

VCG is also working on its Consumer Data application to integrate tasting room activity, wine club activity, e-commerce sales and products sold directly to the consumer as one database.

VCG offers onsite and remote training upon implementation of the software, and support benefits include a fully managed help desk, ensuring that when customers call, they will speak with a support manager.

Because VCG prices on a tiered basis according to the number of users and modules desired, the software cost varies. According to Hall, the range is $4,000 and up. VCG also offers customized programming based on a winery's needs.

Currently, over 80 wine companies in the U.S. use VCG's software, and case production range is between 500 to nearly 1 million.

For more information on VCG, contact Vintage Consulting Group, P.O. Box 1805, Sonoma, Calif. 95476, phone (707) 939-8387, fax (707) 939-1102, visit the Web site vintage-consulting.com. or e-mail Jay Hall at jay@vintage-consulting.com.

OenoLog

OenoLog, manufactured and distributed by Smart Tool, Inc., was developed by Smart Tool's President and CFO Rob Cozens in 1992 and released in 2000. "OenoLog software is a winemaker's tool for production control and compliance reporting," Cozens explained. OenoLog tracks, records and reports on all aspects of wine production from crush through bottling, such as fermentation, barrel tracking, blends and history.

Focused entirely on wine production and supplies inventory, OenoLog is a non-modular system available in one version only through an annual subscription. "There is also a downloadable version on the Internet that has no time limit and can be used for tracking supplies, inventory maintenance and BATF reporting," Cozens added. The free demo runs on any Apple PPC computer and includes hypothetical blending capabilities.

"My feeling is that people need to be able to try (OenoLog) at no risk and become comfortable with it, see how it works," Cozen said. "I provided a downloadable version that has no time limit and will not only show (customers) about 95% of the functionality of the system, but it actually can perform useful work within the winery, so that small wineries that want to take it and use it for BATF reporting or for supplies inventory are welcome to take it and use it as long as they want."

The current version of OenoLog is written in HyperCard and runs on Apple iBooks only. However, before the end of the year, Cozens expects a version to be converted to MetaCard, at which point the software will be available on a broad range of Mac computers, and possibly Windows and Unix computers. "As a tool, OenoLog comes with Windows '98 software, so it can be used in conjunction with accounting systems and other winery functions on Windows computers," Cozen added.

A complete OenoLog system costs $7,995 and includes an Apple iBook, printer, carrying case and other accessories, as well as six annual updates. However, software can be installed by subscription on existing equipment for $1,195. Support and maintenance is included when purchasing an annual subscription; the first line of support is given through e-mail, followed by telephone support.

Currently, one winery is using the production version of OenoLog-- Pacific Echo Cellars, which helped Cozens develop the software over the last five years. Case production is 55,000.

"It's working real well," Tex Sawyer, winemaker at Pacific Echo Cellars said about the OenoLog software. "We finished the testing last year and pretty much cleaned out most of everything we could find that was problematical. (The software) can bring grapes in from the vineyard and track it in from grape source all the way to the bottle. And if you use the dollar evaluation system, you can determine how much money you have in each tank, even in each barrel. It's a very comprehensive inventory management system."

For more information on OenoLog, contact OenoLog, P.O. Box 476, Boonville, Calif. 95415, e-mail sales@OenoLog.com, or visit the Web site, OenoLog.com.

The Winemaker's Database

The Winemaker's Database (WMDB) has been providing winery management systems since 1985. A California-based corporation, it was founded by Dr. James Vahi, who worked in enology before designing the WMDB. "It's designed by a winemaker for winemakers and winery owners," said Leighton Richardson, who is in charge of marketing and public relations.

WMDB is software designed to manage wine production, and it is available in a standard or customized format. Standard single and multiuser versions, which cost roughly $3,900, include functions such as data entry (information fields for must and juice, crush tags, wine analysis and barrel operations), flexible data inquiry (crush information, wine movements, tank/blend status, current and historical analyses), summary information (current and historical information for characteristics such as varietal, appellation and blend location), summary reports for crushing, transactions, 702 reports, corrections and histories. Add-on modules are also available for functions including but not limited to trial blends, tank gauging, cellar mapping, bar coding and custom crush. Customized versions are based on client specifications.

In the last six months, WMDB has added new modules to its lineup. Some available are grower contract management, packaging materials management, case goods management, fermentation graphing and tracking. "One of our newest products is WMDB palm bar coding," Richardson added. "What we're doing is offering a ruggedized palm pilot with an integrated bar code scanner for tracking barrels, and we're anticipating using the same unit for other functions in the winery.

WMDB software is completely Windows-based, and WMDB is presently in the second version of its Windows software. Support, maintenance and distribution of new versions or software updates is done remotely using PC Anywhere 32 through direct modem or Internet access, and while most WMDB clients use PC Anywhere 32 for laptop dialup access, some locations use WinFrame, Citrix or similar remote access software. WMDB software will run on systems with Windows 95 and above, and WMDB also has software running on Mac systems.

WMDB software is running in approximately 150 winery locations worldwide, and clients include Mondavi, Byron, Opus One, Clos du Bois and Foppiano Vineyards. Case production ranges between 2,500 and 50 million cases.

"It's working out great for us," Bill Regan, winemaker at Foppiano Vineyards said about WMDB. "From crushing the grapes on, it keeps track every time you make a blend, of your percent vintage, varietal, appellation. It has a lot of really good features, it's easy to use and it makes life a lot easier."

Besides the standard software running in the U.S., WMDB has international versions, including a Spanish-language version used in Chile and Argentina, and a new version running in Europe and Canada. WMDB software also operates Israel's largest winery, and WMBD is in the process of installing its software in Israel's second-largest winery.

The WMDB also donated software to Fresno State. "They are presently running winery operations with our software and I think they are very pleased with that." Currently, the WMDB is in the process of finalizing the donation of software to Cornell University's enology program.

Richardson noted that the WMDB software has roughly 300 pages of documentation built in to the software with help files on any specific screen. He also added that WMDB has the ability to make retroactive corrections. "We have had clients that have made mistakes two years previously, and they can go back and change that information or insert omitted information, and the software will push that correction forward," Richardson said. "We guarantee internal data integrity."

For more information on WMDB, contact The Winemaker's Database, Inc. at (707) 933-8635, e-mail info@wmdb.com or visit the Web site wmdb.com.

Other computer software companies include Sales Automation Solutions, (415) 258-0965; Cleveland Software Systems, (408) 448-5344; Gulson & Associates, (707) 996-9754; Aim Systems, (805) 546-2900; Freecase Software, (805) 547-1325; Orange Enterprises, Inc., (559) 229-2195; New Generation Software, Inc., (800) 824-1220; Innovative Winery Solutions, (707) 944-1244; and North Coast Retail Systems, (800) 500-9335.

Wines & Vines appreciates the responses from the suppliers.
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Author:Rofe, Jennifer
Publication:Wines & Vines
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Words:2791
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