Grapes have been cultivated in Shabo since the arrival of the ancient Greeks. Five hundred years ago the region was colonised by the Turks, then Swiss immigrants brought their artisan skills from about 1822. The mild climate, warm air of the Steppe, sandy soil and unique microclimate of the Black Sea coast provide perfect conditions for grape cultivation. Like Bordeaux and Burgundy, Shabo is on the ‘grape latitude’ – between 46 and 47 degrees North.In 2004 the decision was taken to update the Shabo Winery. Now, modern European equipment jostles for space with more traditional storage systems in ancient cellars, the objective being to create wines and brandies as fine as any that have been produced within the last 200 years.A programme of investment has seen the creation of full-cycle production: from the cultivation of grapes, through storage and seasoning to bottling, as well as distillation for spirits and mixing for vermouth. Currently it has capacity to process 20 thousand tons of grapes in a season, producing up to 45 million bottles of wine and 25 million bottles of brandy, using the delicate 'cold bottling' method.All stages of Shabo wine production are focussed on preserving the grapes' taste, colour and aroma in the wine. So harvesting is by hand, allowing selection of the best. Then the grapes are subjected to the various processes of winemaking, maturing blending and bottling.However, the viticulturists at Shabo were keen to embrace the most modern automation technologies to ensure their increasing production remained efficient and quality focussed. In October 2011, for instance they installed a system to maintain pre-set temperatures in both the production and maturing areas and also to measure the level of wine in the holding tanks. As well as this, the new system monitors the pumping activities of the refrigeration stations and coolant temperature. This automates a previously manual task that was not only time consuming, but also required considerable concentration to ensure accurate recording and thorough analysis.The opportunity was also taken to integrate several processes that were already individually automated into one unified system. For data signalling and communication around the system the CC-Link industrial Ethernet networking protocol was chosen because of its ability to communicate easily with devices from a wide range of manufacturers. The technical team also warmed to the fact that CC-Link is both reliable and easy to install - two factors that would assure minimum disruption to production.SCADAThe architecture of the system is based on a supervisory level computer equipped with twin monitors and operator panels running a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) program. This is supported by a production management control system based on five PLCs (programmable logic controllers) communicating via two CC-Link networks.These collect and process data from numerous sensors monitoring temperature, humidity, tank levels and valve settings. In total there are 256 analogue and digital inputs and 152 outputs (all digital) in the CC-Link system. And it is planned that the system will be regularly expanded in stages over the coming years.One of the key advantages of CC-Link to this particular application is that if a section of the system is taken off-line, the data signals are automatically re-routed via alternative wiring, so that overall control is never lost. Similarly, the system can be expanded simply by plugging new devices or sub-systems into the existing network; again, the signal routing is instantly and automatically optimised and communications are never interrupted.The wine market is promising for Ukrainian producers, because consumption volumes are steadily growing. Currently, it stands at about 17.6m decalitres of wine worth some US$800m. Experts believe that annual growth of wine consumption over coming years will be around 17.5% - attributed largely to the increasing adoption of European lifestyle choices, namely a switch from vodka to wine, and to the growing wealth of the region.Additionally, export opportunities are opening up rapidly. Wine drinkers around the world are keen to try wines from new regions; Shabo has recently opened a Ukrainian Wine Cultural Centre, and has been included in Europe's first wine cultural routes development map as drawn up by the Council of Europe, European commission, UNESCO and representatives of the European wine industry.
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