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Palmaz Vineyards

M 4K25 RGB projectors illuminate the winery's fermenting room dome

Palmaz Vineyards

Napa Valley, California

Hospitality, Travel & tourism

6 x M 4K25 RGB pure laser projectors

Winery upgrades to RGB projectors

Images courtesy of Palmaz Vineyards

Palmaz Vineyards spans over 600 acres in the heart of Napa Valley, California, and combines the traditions of winemaking with research and innovation to create its renowned and sought-after wines.

The historic property was originally purchased by Henry Hagen, a pre-prohibition vintner, in 1881. The property retained its acreage through prohibition, a rarity in the Valley, and was purchased by the Palmaz family in 1996 – making them only the third owners since Hagen. And while the land size remained intact, the winery had to be built from scratch. The family opted for an “advanced terroir” separation of the vines, which matches the grape varietal to the land and environmental conditions that will best support its growth.

The winery is an 18-story facility that is built into Mount George and features over five city blocks of underground tunnels. The unique vertical design of the winery allows the wine to be transported without mechanical pumps, and instead via a process known as “gravity-flow” winemaking, which protects the delicate molecular structure of the tannins in the wine.

Collaboration in the heart of the winery

At the heart of the facility is the fermentation room, which houses 24 fermentation tanks. The grapes from the vineyards are transported here to be turned into wine during a delicate and intensive 60-day process.

It’s a complicated process, says Christian Palmaz, COO, Palmaz Vineyards. “The fermentation is exothermic which produces heat, so the temperature is constantly adjusted. It’s a complex equation. But this is something that any first-year enology grad student can do. So why work with the very best winemakers as we do? It’s because of the other things that you can’t put numbers to.”

Palmaz wanted to strike a balance between the creativity and collaboration needed to develop their award-winning wines, and the data to inform the process of fermentation. They created a software system called Fermentation Intelligence Logic Control System (FILCS) which takes millions of calculations per second from inside each tank.

“The data is great, but it was not very collaborative. So putting it on an iPad or screen meant something was missing. We have a team of three people that work together over this critical 60-day fermentation process. It’s dangerous to silo this information because you can get divergent stylistic considerations of what’s happening. So how do you solve for that?” says Palmaz.


Projectors enable a collaborative approach

Palmaz had the idea of projecting the data and information on the domed ceiling in the fermenting room.

“I happen to be a pilot, and during my annual training, I was in a flight simulator and wondered how they got this perfect curved and blended image. I walked around to the front of the simulator, and lo and behold I see six or seven Christie projectors,” says Palmaz. “I called Christie the next day, and we got to work.”

Palmaz originally installed Christie M Series projectors. “We needed a huge amount of clarity, brightness, and durability. We used the original M Series for over a decade and then upgraded to six M 4K25 RGBs for even more brightness. They are incredibly bright.” The increased brightness of the M 4K25 RGB projectors also allows the Vineyard to run the room with more lighting, ensuring a safer work environment.

“Color is really important,” says Palmaz. “Because of our thermographic displays, color means something to us. Seeing the dynamic color effect – as the temperatures change when pump overs occur – it’s like varying shades of bathwater. You’re talking about a 5–6-degree change in temperature in the tank. But the range of color [that the projectors display] helps to visualize slight variations in temperature.”

“It’s something we noticed with the newer projectors, they have such a wide color gamut and better color accuracy. It translates to us having a better understanding of the temperature and how it’s distributed inside the tank,” says Palmaz.

“The winery put their trust in Christie over ten years ago with the installation of our original M Series, and again, now with our M 4K25 RGB projectors,” says Paul Dumpel, senior sales manager, Christie. “We’re thrilled that our M 4K25 RGB pure laser projectors are helping Palmaz Vineyards create some of the best wines in the world.”

“Over the last decade, Christie has invested significantly in the development of RGB pure laser illumination systems that deliver more than twice the color of a typical laser phosphor projector,” says Joel St-Denis, director of product management, Christie. “In third-party research conducted in 2016, we found that 78% of survey respondents indicated ‘color fidelity’ as one of the most important factors when buying a projector.”

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