Flash Wine Technologies is owned and operated by Rudy Zuidema who has been a Napa Valley winemaker since 1992.
For the past two decades, the Flash Détente method of extraction has had strong presence in Italy, France, South America, and Australia, with over 60 units worldwide today. Flash Détente is rapidly becoming mainstream in the American wine industry.
We are the first Flash Détente service company in Northern California to process small and large wine lots, bringing this cutting edge new technology to wineries of all sizes. Our state of the art system can process lots as small as 10 tons allowing wineries in the intimate, boutique, luxury wine business to experiment with Flash Détente and see how it can greatly add quality options to their wine programs.
Flash Wine Technologies processed nearly 1,000 tons in 2012. More than 30 well respected wineries in the Napa and Sonoma regions have experimented with the process bringing varieties including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Your grapes are delivered to our Kenwood, CA location in macro-bins or 2.5 ton gondolas to begin the 3-4 hour process. The fruit is de-stemmed and tightly crushed to create high liquid must. The must is pumped to our holding tanks where approximately 400 gallons of the juice is separated from the must to form a “juice ring”. This ring is heated to 200 degrees ferenheit and circulated continuously. Once temperature of the juice is achieved the solids are blended with the ring to be heated rapidly. The hot skins are then delivered to the vacuum tank where they are immediately flashed. The vacuum will create steam that is removed through condensation cooling the must down to 85 degrees and pulling out flash water containing off flavors. A full truck 24 ton load will take approximately four hours to process and be ready to load into your waiting tanker.
During the process 3-5% of the volume is blown off in the form of steam. This loss of water will increase the sugar content in the juice concentrating the flavors and can create a thicker, more complex wine.
The steam that is blown off is comprised of water (flash water) containing the heaviest molecules having the longest flavor chains. These long chain molecules are the least desirable in that they are typically comprised of methoxy-pyrazines which are the vegetal, green bell pepper, and asparagus flavors.
During the rapid heating and cooling process problematic microbes and proteins such as brettanocyces, acetobacer, and laccase caused by rot or mildew are eliminated or denatured leaving the juice virtually sterile.
100% of the yeast available nitrogen is extracted, leaving the must very ready to start and complete a healthy fermentation.
Wine quality can be greatly improved from grapes that are in a poor growing location, poor state of health, improperly farmed, or suffering from the effects of a difficult vintage year in their region.
More excitingly, most of our clients are flashing sound, ripe, healthy grapes to add blending components to their luxury wine program. These are small to mid-sized wineries that are using this process on a percentage of a few different grape varieties to create a “spice rack” of blending tools.
This technology will bring many new possibilities for the winemaker to explore. The flashed must can be pressed immediately to ferment as juice, or left on skins in the traditional fashion so there will be many options for fermentation. Winemakers are blending flashed must with conventional must and co-fermenting them, or, re-using skin caps from earlier ferments and added fresh flash juice for more extraction.
Rudy was born in Sacramento, California, and grew up in the nearby agricultural community of Davis. Building on a love of the outdoors and an interest in farming, Rudy studied Plant Science and Agricultural Management at the University of California, Davis, where he focused on viticulture.
Upon graduating from UC Davis in 1991, Rudy moved to Napa and took a position at the famed Oakville Grocery that inspired Rudy’s desire to pursue winemaking. Working alongside wine buyer Mary Danielak, Rudy tasted thousands of wines, refining his palate and expanding his base of knowledge about vineyards, vintages and winemaking styles. In 1993, eager to gain hands-on winemaking experience, Rudy traveled to Australia’s McLaren Vale to work at Wirra Wirra Winery. Under the guidance of Australian winemaker, Ben Riggs, Rudy learned techniques for achieving ideal ripeness, cap management and extraction—techniques that still inform his approach to winemaking.
After returning to the United States, Rudy worked for St. Clement Vineyards and White Cottage Ranch under his mentor Dennis Johns. From there he moved on to such respected wineries as Cuvaison and Honig Vineyard, where Rudy was the assistant winemaker working alongside James Hall, of Patz and Hall Wine Company. In 1996, Rudy joined Robert Craig Winery as winemaker, where he spent the next seven years focusing on terroir-driven Cabernet Sauvignon production from Howell Mountain, Mount Veeder, and the Napa valley floor. Eager to combine his love of agriculture and winemaking, Rudy moved to a post as the winemaker and vineyard manager for Ehlers Estate from 2003 to 2008. “My ideal approach to winemaking,” says Rudy, “begins with guiding the farming of the land.”
This was an incredible opportunity to feel the luxury of an estate run program. His most recent position was back on Howell Mountain for his second stint at White Cottage Ranch. As Winemaker, Vineyard Manager and General Manager, he converted the property to a certified organic and biodynamic estate.
As a consulting vineyard manager and winemaker for small estate programs, Rudy Zuidema combines a passion for agriculture with an expansive knowledge of winemaking. In the vineyard, he follows organic and biodynamic farming practices to naturally enhance the flavorful diversity of the estate’s rich tapestry of vineyard blocks. In the cellar he uses the entire range of winemaking methods, from traditional open-top fermentation using native yeasts to cutting edge Flash Détente extraction.