Iconic Wine Brand Upgrades Packaging Line for Efficiency and Sustainability

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic receding, wineries are increasingly upgrading and modernizing equipment for the vineyard, winemaking, and packaging to optimize and automate more manual processes. Machinery like depalletizers is gaining traction because they play a crucial role in automating the handling of bulk glass. Bulk glass lowers costs and the winery’s carbon footprint by eliminating third-party charges for packing glass into cases before delivery. It reduces the number of trucks (and thus CO2 emitted) by 35 percent or more.

Mimi Storts, Senior Director of Planning and Operations at Hess Persson Estates, recently upgraded the Hess Collection bottling line. She explains, “At Hess Collection, we had only one bottling line, and it was nearing its end of life. Quality is number one, so we wanted the new bottling line to maintain that quality and retain our internal quality oversight.”

Storts also needed two capabilities the old line didn’t have: to handle the screw cap finish for one of their largest SKUs, Select Chardonnay, and run both case and bulk glass. She sent out RFPs, considered several machinery suppliers, and decided to work with a partnership of MBF North America and APS Packaging, formerly Maspack USA, for a turnkey line. APS delivered a depalletizer that could do both glass formats, an uncaser, the conveyor equipment, a case erector to form cases, a case packer, a partition inserter, a resealer, and a unitizer ― all from the Italian equipment manufacturer MasPack, APS strategic partner.

“The unitizer (also called a palletizer) is different from others in the industry,” Storts says. “It has a robot arm that lets you create pallet patterns unique to the wine we’re running at the touch of a button. The line moved us from a manual mechanical system to a more computer-based automated one. We’ve had lots of visitors checking out their magnificent work. They’re interested in making purchases themselves because it really is a pioneering piece of equipment.”

Growing to meet equipment needs

That interest signals future growth for the wine industry and the companies that support it. APS CEO Alberto Migliardi agrees, “After seven years in business, sales and projects we are working on have grown significantly. With this rapid growth, we are expanding to ensure top-notch service for our clients’ machinery.”

APS Packaging more than doubled its facility space, adding more than 2000 square feet exclusively for its Technical Support Department, including implementing a well-stocked warehouse for efficient parts management. Founder and CEO Alberto Migliardi also hired Pierluigi Maruccia as Chief Technical Officer (CTO) to lead the increased demand for equipment services. Maruccia spent more than a decade at MasPack. “I started as an electrician at MasPack when I was 20 years old and had the opportunity to travel around the world, including living three years in Chile handling technical service for South America and Mexico. I took care of all the technical aspects of service, including electrical, mechanical, electronic and software-related issues.”

Photo: Leigh Wachter

Migliardi highlighted Maruccia’s critical role in APS’s future growth and success, “Pier’s highly-technical background and ability to manage the technical side of the company independently makes him a crucial asset for APS, allowing us to drive forward in the post-COVID winery landscape to meet the evolving needs of our customers and the market.”

His responsibilities include implementing an inventory management system to track every item in the expanded warehouse and monitoring all machine service activities, including client service requests. He will also oversee the company’s software-based preventive maintenance program and remote technical service.

“One reason we went with MBF and APS was their commitment to service,” Storts adds. “Alberto and his team were here every time new equipment arrived to unpack and install it themselves because it was during Covid. It was challenging because the equipment sat unloaded in a San Francisco port for months, but we never felt left out in the wind. Alberto and his team were wonderful. It was like family.”

APS also installed packaging lines for Rodney Strong Vineyards, Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services & Bottling, Frank Family Vineyards and Infinity Bottling. The fact that Infinity is next door to Hess Collection was a bonus for Storts, who says, “Infinity was so gracious throughout the installation, and they are also big champions of APS and the MasPack brand, which added to the family atmosphere.”

“Our focus has been on wine and spirits since we brought in the first machines in 2016,” shares Migliardi. “That’s why we chose to base ourselves here in Sonoma County, where we’ve grown deep connections to the local community. The rolling hills and vineyards remind me of my vineyards in Castel Boglione (Italy), where I learned the art of working in the vineyards and winery.”

Par Then Bar Open: 3rd Annual Golf Tournament 

APS and MBF’s partnership moves beyond packaging lines to hosting its annual Par Then Bar Open Golf Tournament for customers. This year’s is on Friday, June 9th, at Eagle Vines Golf Course in American Canyon. This edition is dedicated in memory of John Vicini, founder of Trecini Winery recently passed away.

Thank you to all the sponsors of this event: Rack & Riddle Custom Wine Services, Morrison Container Handling Solutions, Frank-lin Distillers Products, DB Group International Freight Forwarding Company, Wine Industry Network, Maverick Enterprise, Garvey Corporation, Lawson Drayage and Intercap USA.

VIA Wine Industry Network