A Nanaimo winemaker has a new approach to making wine, beer and cider.
Mark Reheis, who co-owns Off the Vine Winemaking with his wife Cindy, has invented a device that simplifies winemaking and is now manufacturing his new product.
The Vintner 225L stands about one-metre tall, is about one-metre wide and, at first glance, looks like a kitchen cabinet, but with a stainless steel front panel, hose connections and a stainless steel spout.
Its outwardly simple appearance is the culmination of 12 years of refining the design.
Reheis, originally from the Okanagan, has been making wine for 37 years and was looking for a simpler and less labour intensive way for customers to make wine at home.
“For every person that comes in here, there’s four people doing it at home,” Reheis said. “There’s quite a market out there. That’s what I want to reach.”
Reheis says the Vintner 225L is the only system of its kind anywhere and requires no lifting or racking of heavy carboys.
The system employs two, 25-litre, stainless steel fermenters, which once loaded with the wine, beer or cider kit of the user’s choice, are sealed to limit oxygen and light exposure to produce better product and cleaning of its internal tubing and pump system takes only a few seconds.
“That thing will make wine better than I can with the old system,” Reheis said.
The system makes about 25 litres at a time in four to six weeks depending on whether it’s producing beer, cider or wine and will accept any of the wine and beer kits on the market. Each unit is hand-built and incorporates components and materials from as many local suppliers and fabricators as possible.
Reheis has applied for a patent on the device and is now filling orders for the units, which sell for about $1,000 to $1,100 per copy depending on the finish requested by the customer.
“Nothing stays the same except for the way we’ve been making wine forever,” Reheis said. “We don’t make coffee the same way. I remember my grandparents and my parents percolating it and we’ve got self-serve. We’ve got flavoured pods. It’s constantly changing. Our phones and our cameras – everything changes, but winemaking, it’s never changed. It needs to change. We need to make wine better and simpler.”
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