A high-tech cellar has been built in Bavaria, dedicated to the conservation and management of fine wine bottles. Unger Weine was founded by Michael and Wulf Unger in 1993 and operates in the high-end wine trade. Among their clients are four-star restaurants, yachts, millionaire collectors.
High-end wine trade and conservation
In 2007 Unger Weine built a warehouse for the conservation of its own wines, but the growth of the trade in high-level labels soon made small his cellar. So in 2015 the two brothers decided to build a high-tech cellar dedicated to conservation in Frasdorf, near Munich, Germany. Fine wines need the right counterfeit systems, as I wrote in this post, but not only. The technology sector for cellars and for the conservation of wine is growing already since some years.
The warehouse is 5,000 square meters large, a depth of 12 meters; designed by architect Peter Höflinger, the excavation alone took more than 8 months. This high-tech cellar contains bottles that would widen the eyes of any wine connoisseur, for instance 100-year-old Premier Cru or more modern, but no less expensive, Californian Screaming Eagles.
After that many Unger Weine’s customers own up to 500 cases of wines, so conservation and management techniques are of fundamental importance.
As an engineer, technology was the key to creating something unique in the wine industry (Michael Unger, interview with Wired)
The technological and ecological cellar
Humidity is constantly at 70%, temperature varies between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius, also keeping the external environmental conditions under control. The system consists of a system of pipes and fans for cooling, heating and air filtering. The control is a computerized system, running a software developed from Unger Weins. A geothermal heat exchange system with the water from the underlying groundwater, integrated with the heating from locally sourced wood pellets, passing through pipes placed on the floor and ceiling.
There is also a vibration control system, which for some wines can be harmful; NFC sensors communicate with each other, recording the smallest variations in distance. A computer system controls these systems as well.
Moreover when in August the thunderstorms hit Frasdorf, they interruped the power lines; the generator started running without causing system shutdowns thanks to a battery-powered UPS.
In addition above the cellar there’s a Bavarian-style house where the brothers and their families live.
Wine Cellars and Data Centers: same thing?
If we thing out of the box, we can make a similitude with data centers. High technology cellars and data centers are more similar than they are different. Both need a temperature control, a security system, and may be a remote management system. All things inside have to be counted and listed and bottles need maintenance as servers. And both of them need an high speed connection. With cloud services like AWS or Google Cloud large data centers risk to remain empty, because many companies turn to big tech for their digital services. Perhaps it isn’t actually the same things, sure, but why don’t think about it?
photo credit: Sam Chick