Article: Wine Yeast Monitoring

Yeast monitoring helps to reach the full potential of wine

With the use of a mobile microscope, winemakers can now detect fermentation irregularities at an early stage with their smartphones. Costly cell counters or laborious laboratory microscopes are no longer needed.

In order to ensure a successful and complete alcoholic fermentation without stagnation it is essential that the wine yeasts work properly. Only then the maximum potential of the vintage can be fully utilized; even a vintage with the best conditions will result in a substandard wine if the fermentation is insufficient.

Avoid the risks in fermentation by yeast monitoring

The most important advantage of yeast monitoring is that the must can always be inoculated with an adequate number of viable yeast cells. This prevents the danger of insufficient yeast counts and at the same time saves the additional costs of excessive re-inoculation and yeast nutrition application.

Monitoring the yeast count and viability also allows an early detection of problems in fermentation – 2 to 3 days before you would observe them by only measuring the sugar content. This way you can correct the issue before it becomes a bigger problem.

Costly cell counters are no longer needed

The Oculyze FW is the first affordable alternative for wineries to monitor yeast. Up until now, winemakers usually only had the choice between standard laboratory microscopes and expensive cell counters that were not even developed for the wine industry. Only very few oenologists have the time to integrate the complex microscopic analysis into their work routine.

In addition, cell counters that are currently on the market are rarely used because of the high purchase and operating costs. Standard microscopes also have the problem of the operators being highly subjective when counting. Especially when different people are doing the analysis or when the counting is not done regularly.

Oculyze FW gives precise results within seconds

With the new mobile microscope and the app, smartphones or tablets are transformed into powerful tools that allow anyone to create a microscopic image and to obtain precise and reproducible results within seconds without the need for special expertise.

With this hardware-software combination, Oculyze has already enabled nearly 200 breweries to automate cost-effectively their yeast cell counting during fermentation.

The accuracy of the system for alcoholic fermentation with S. cerevisiae has been confirmed by extensive studies at the Weincampus Neustadt university.

As the system is very easy to use, any winemaker, regardless of their microbiological experience, can quickly and accurately analyze his yeast population to better monitor the progress of his fermentations. This increases process reliability in wine production and helps saving resources. Fermentation problems such as a stuck fermentation can be avoided, and one can reach the full potential of their wines.

Determination of the total cell count of Saccharomyces cerevisiae during fermentation
Figure 2: Determination of the total cell count of Saccharomyces cerevisiae during fermentation

The automated Oculyze FW analysis was compared with a manual count at a microscope.

How Oculyze system works
Figure 1: How the Oculyze system works

Pictures of the yeast sample are taken with the Oculyze FW and a smartphone. The images are then analyzed by a cloud-based algorithm and the total cell count as well as the number of viable cells are determined. Within seconds, the results are available on the smartphone. The data can also be accessed via a WebApp.

Academic collaboration

Oculyze FW technology has been developed and adapted to the needs of winemakers in collaboration with academic researchers.

The accuracy of the system for alcoholic fermentation with S. cerevisiae has been confirmed by extensive studies at the Weincampus Neustadt university. The results of the validation show that the automated determination of the total cell count using Oculyze FW is congruent with the analysis of a standard microscope. This confirms that the algorithm on which the evaluation of the system is based on is in no way inferior to the gold standard of an expert at a microscope.

Together with Prof. Dr. Maren Scharfenberger-Schmeer and Dr. Kathrin Diesler (University of Applied Sciences Kaiserslautern/Weincampus Neustadt, Germany), Oculyze continues to adapt the technology to the demands and requirements of the wine industry in the future. This collaborative research project is funded by the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF).

Adapted from article by Dr. Kathrin Diesler and Prof. Dr. Maren Scharfenberger-Schmeer

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