A cellar today is not merely a place of production. Its design must respond to various requirements, such as its integration with the landscape, the necessity for guest reception and the presentation of the image that the producer wishes to give of itself, not only through the quality of the wines, but also through the values based on its relationship with the areas, the territory and the environment.
All this must be without losing sight of the functionality and technological requirements of the oenological process.
The design of the new cellar of the “Le Palaie” farm is the realisation of an idea had by Angelo Nino Caponi, for his Montecchio estate in the municipality of Peccioli, Val d’Era, an emerging wine region in the tuscan province of Pisa.
The designers of the structure, Studio Casati di Peccioli, created the basement-level cellar within a hill overlooking the vineyard of Montecchio, taking advantage of the natural morphology of the terrain that presents as a large trapezoidal expanse unfolding towards the valley.
The areas of the winery are distributed over two floors, with the lower level housing the barrel room in the innermost basement area to the north, and the partially below-ground vinification areas to the south.
On the upper level are situated rather the premises for the offices, the reception areas and the tasting room. The two floors are connected by an internal staircase representing an architectural and artistic element, with glass walls providing visitors with a view of the cellar areas from up above.
The cellar was designed with the utmost attention to detail, not only in terms of its stylistic and architectural aspects, but also for its logistic and production elements, from the correct management of its energy consumption, to its lighting and workplace safety.
The cellar is fitted out with the integrated supervisory system SAEn5000, which unites in one piece of equipment all the control and management functions for the tanks and premises in a BUS network.
The tronconic steel vinification vats, equipped with manual treaders for punching down on rails and those in concrete with a new conception and form, are fitted with a multifunction system for management of the temperature (hot and cold) and micro-oxygenation.
The Parsec SAEn5000 system also permits the integrated overseeing of the aeration and climate control system of the winemaking and barrel storage areas, fitted in the niches present between barriques, with various sculptures transforming the production environment into a veritable art gallery.
Parsec’s know-how with gases applied safely to the cellar
The management of the CO2 extraction plus the aeration of the vinification areas and barrel room have necessitated the design of an automated system equipped with diverse security features.
“The extraction of CO2 in the winemaking areas is safeguarded by four extractors equipped with ventilators positioned a few centimetres from the ground,” explains Leo Forte who oversaw the project. “The exchange of clean external air has a double modality: fresh air enters in a passive means via four vertical channels that run within the columns of the structure and which extract clean air from the roof to be inputted into the areas to enact the actioning of depressions created by ventilators for the expulsion of carbon dioxide, and in an active means from a central funnel equipped with a ventilator that diffuses the air throughout all the areas to forcibly ‘sweep out’ the carbon dioxide from below.”
“The extraction of the CO2 and the ventilation are managed automatically by a series of detectors specifically constructed by Parsec in collaboration with a leading company in gas sensor systems,” continues Forte, “that detect carbon dioxide from the fermentation at a base level of 0.5% to activate the extraction process, while activating an optical and acoustic evacuation alarm system should the CO2 exceed the level of 1%.”
Besides this automation system, in the case of its activation SAEn5000 manages in a priority manner the closure of the hinged windows positioned externally throughout the area, so as to avoid the expelling of air entering through the windows instead of the accumulated CO2, ensuring that the entire system operates in a reliable and secure manner.
The climate control of the barrel room is guaranteed by air entering from two columns positioned on the front of the cellar and, with a nod to the maritime transport activities of Caponi, visible from the outside like two ship funnels.
The fresh air is mixed with that from within the premises before being cooled or heated by two thermoventilation machines that ensure the air circulation in the two wings of the barrel room. A system of free-cooling, or “natural air-conditioning”, managed by SAEN5000 through sensors positioned in the external columns to the north, operates to ensure that the air is extracted at the time of day when the external temperature and humidity are closer to those desired and necessitated in the barrel room. In this way, it is ensured the optimisation of the functioning times of the thermal-ventilating machines that heat or cool air only in the times effectively required, with evident energy savings.
Illumination of the project in its realisation
Even the lighting of the new Nino Caponi cellar was curated by Parsec.
“Commencing with the architectural project, the selection of the most fitting points of light and illumination forms both externally and internally was necessary for the scenographic and functional aims,” recalls Leo Forte “The next step was the selection of the most suitable equipment for each application, the simulation of the lighting effect in the rendering and ultimately in the technical trials on the construction site with various daytime and nighttime illumination.”
The characteristic that most distinguishes the Parsec SAEn5000 system is the multilevel and multiprocessor structure. A microprocessor is dedicated to each function and is controlled hierarchically, from a single unit installed on a tank through to the personal computer from which the user manages the whole process simply and intuitively.
The Parsec system was born and developed especially for the cellar. Unique in the international technological panorama thanks to its modularity and flexibility, it also provides for the optimisation and simplification of the set-ups as a whole and thus a considerable re-dimensioning in mass and encumbrance of the equipment and its electrical cables, maximising the elegance of the installation.