Sutton Bay-based winery Black Star Farms today introduced and demonstrated Flash Detente, a ThermoVinification technology that improves the quality of red wine. Black Star Farms is the first in its region, and is among 12 other locations in the U.S, to use the technology.
Flash Detente reduces the negative effects of widely changing weather patterns on Michigan’s wineries. The technology will improve flavors and colors and produce higher quality red wine.
During the process, crushed and destemmed grapes are put into the Flash Detente, heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, before entering a vacuum chamber where the grape skin is ruptured.
What is extracted are desirable color components from the skins, while minimizing harsh tannins. The unit owned by Black Star Farms can process five tons of grapes in one hour.
Black Star Farms says the technology will allow growers to produce more consistent tonnage per acre, and winemakers will be able to produce more consistent quality wines by mitigating undesirable, yet common, traits of cool-climate grown grapes.
“With the variability of conditions in grape growing regions like northern Michigan, having a tool like Flash Détente is going to greatly improve the capabilities of the region as a whole to consistently produce high quality red wines, to stand alongside the whites that are already being made here,” says Lee Lutes, head winemaker at Black Star Farms.
“To say this is a new ‘era’ in red winemaking for Michigan might be a stretch, but I’ve not seen as much optimism from my fellow winemakers since our last “great” vintage, which was back in 2012.
It is my hope that with this tool we won’t have to wait five more years for the vines to give us what we need to make delicious reds.”
The reveal took place during the annual harvest at Black Star Farms vineyard. The company also operates a neighboring tasting room on Old Mission Peninsula, just north of Traverse City.
Widely used in Europe, South America, and Australia for 20 years, the technology is relatively new to the U.S., having been introduced in California in 2009.
In collaboration with a grant from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Black Star Farms will work with other wineries beginning this fall to process their harvest through the flash détente.