They most certainly have a culture of innovation and a passion for their products. But what else can you expect from the French?

A French Connection of Note – WineLand Magazine Feature

They most certainly have a culture of innovation and a passion for their products. But what else can you expect from the French? Celebrating sole distribution rights in sunny South Africa, Beveratech is fervently continuing their French tradition of innovation and strive for the latest in technology.

By Wanda Augustyn

Claiming to have the strongest technical team in the country and 600 (and counting!) machines in the industry, Beveratech is a definite force to be reckoned with. As suppliers of grape processing equipment and membrane technology in the wine, food and beverage industry, Bucher has been central in their success. Originally, in 1996, three shareholders were involved with Bucher technology. They started out in different companies, but after ten years they came together and now operate under the Beveratech name.

“It’s true,” says Christie van Zyl, one of the shareholders, on a very hot Monday morning in March. “Bucher brought us together. We really have a passion for this innovative technology. Our supplier is the biggest in the world. Bucher Vaslin is an innovative company that designs and builds technology we gladly associate with.”

With the main office situated in France and operating in the wine industry since 1856, Bucher Vaslin has always designed different products to fit different desires. Always attentive to the needs of the winemaking world and its continuous search for quality, the company was constantly on the look-out to adapt its products to make them even more efficient, easier to use and more cost effective for a winery.

“For more than a century Bucher Vaslin has been living a passion for vines and wine. From the first Joseph Vaslin presses in 1856 and Johann Bucher presses in 1874, to today’s extensive range, we have been providing a unique service to winemakers and viticulturists,” says Christie. “We develop and produce winemaking processes and equipment and Bucher Vaslin belongs to the Bucher Industries group whose head office is located in Switzerland at Niederweningen.”

The company designs and manufactures all its products. Bucher Vaslin is ISO 9001 (2000) certified by the French Quality Assurance Agency. The EC marking also certifies that equipment is in conformity with European Directives.

Peace of mind is clearly quite important to the people working at Beveratech. Therefore they give advice and assistance for winery installation, offer local field service, guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship and have spare parts available.

Grape processing technology galore

Located in Paarl at the heart of the winelands, Beveratech has three main focus areas – grape processing technology, membrane technology and the workshop.

Bennie Hamman, who joined the company in April and became the third partner, will be in charge of grape processing technology. He grew up in Caledon, studied electronic engineering in Stellenbosch and together with

Riaan Ehlers as technical manager, the two of them know anything and everything there is to know about grape processing machines. Think vibrating trailers and hoppers, automatic sorting lines, sorting tables, destemmers and crushers, pumps and belt elevators!

There are quite a few new and exciting things on offer in terms of grape processing technology. “We are really looking forward to installing only the second automatic sorting table in South Africa, the Mistral, at D’Aria. The first one installed in South Africa now operates at Spier in Stellenbosch,” says Bennie proudly.

The Bucher Inertys process is also an innovation of Bucher Vaslin. “Throughout the world just over 100 units have been sold only three years after launching this product,” explains Bennie. “This is really state of the art technology. The best available at the moment andn there’s a lot of interest in it. The first two in South Africa were recently installed at Tokara and Vergelegen and the results regarding juice quality and extraction are magnificent.”

The Bucher Inertys process which utilises inert gas ensures that 100% of the juice extracted has no oxidation. The must components are thus preserved and undeniably add to the quality of your future wines. Colour, true varietal character and aromatic potential as always promise pleasurable, fresh and fruity wines. The Bucher Inertys process offers excellent results on so-called aromatic varieties, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon for rosés, and also refines the primary aromas of varieties like Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, etc. Fully automatic and easy to use, its original and patented system offers complete management of inert gas injection and real operating cost savings.

Focusing on membrane technology

Kobus Cornelissen, who grew up in Wellington and is another shareholder in the company, oversees everything regarding membrane technology. Kobus started out in 1996 in the wine industry, working in different cellars and as sales manager for a number of companies in the food and beverage industry – experience that today serves him well. With André de Wit as technical manager, they are both responsible for sales of almost 60% of the country’s cross-flow filters.

For Kobus the nitrogen generator is but one of their products that really excites him. The nitrogen generator is based on hollow-fibre membrane technology, which makes it possible to separate air into nitrogen and an oxygen-enriched air stream. It easily enables you to produce nitrogen from compressed air. “Bucher also plans to launch the new range of reverse osmosis technology to extract water from grape must or wines,” says Kobus.

Several applications of this technology have been implemented by Bucher, for example:

• Must concentration, with or without modification of the malic acid rate
• Wine concentration, with or without increasing the alcohol or acidity rates
• Partial alcohol removal from the wine
• Wine acidity reduction
• Since 2005, reduction of sugar content in the grape must reduce alcohol of a wine. (Patented process called Redux, which was awarded a gold medal at the Sitevi show in France).

Cellar design and light engineering

Christie van Zyl has wine in his blood and a vast amount of experience in the industry with regard to wine and vine equipment. Born and bred on a wine farm in Tulbagh, Christie studied viticultural and oenology at Elsenburg and worked for four years at the former Stellenbosch Farmers’ Winery. He farmed with his father in the Worcester / Goudini area and since 1992 he has been part of the Windmeul Group where he really had a flair for cellar design. He was responsible for the design and installation of equipment at a number of well-known cellars, including D’Aria, Swartland, Botha, Dashbosch, Dombeya and Pulpit Rock.

Light engineering, the design and installation of equipment became his forté and he has just installed his 157th press machine in the SA wine industry. “I acquired a 50% share in Beveratech in March 2007 together with Kobus,” explains Christie. “We really are one of the best suppliers of membrane technology with a large percentage of equipment in the industry being supplied by us.”

The Beveratech team consists of ten people. They believe in a flat line management structure where each team member has their own responsibility and must manage that duty to their best ability. “We don’t look over people’s shoulders. There’s just no time to do that. We rather focus on what’s important,” says Christie.

The Beveratech success

As exclusive dealer and sole agent for Bucher Vaslin technology, Beveratech is extremely focused. With a team well known in the wine industry this company is proud to associate themselves with the biggest supplier and manufacturer of innovative technology.

World-wide recognition came in the form of a citation at Sitevi in 2007 for their new concept of cross-flow filtration and a nomination for the Delta Mistral sorting line at the Intervitis Interfructa the same year. “I think another one of the success factors of our company must be our technicians,” says Kobus. “Our technical team – Riaan Ehlers, André de Wit, Sakkie Rust and Jaco Theron – really are the best in the country. These four technicians (all trained at Bucher, France) service our clients and ensure that preventative services are rendered.

Beveratech additionally has the assistance of French technical specialists during the harvest season. Kobus also salutes Louise Olivier who takes care of the administration and financial management of Beveratech.

Keeping clients happy is part of their success strategy

“Our client base stretches from KwaZulu-Natal, to the Northern Cape and back to the Western Cape. We have a passion for excellence. That’s another reason we deal with Bucher. They really are world leaders. And to invest in the future of our company, we only work with world leaders. That surely says something about our company and the people working for it.”

Click here to see the feature as published in the September issue of Wineland Magazine.

Follow us for important updates, industry news & more!


How can we help?

Please click on our contact below to chat to us on WhatsApp

× Talk to us