The QA/QC Quandary!

This week has been a rather interesting one in the life of a winemaker.  On Tuesday we had our yearly FSQM (Food Safety Quality Management) Audit.  QA/QC is something that most consumers don’t ever think about unless something is wrong with their wine.  It is our jobs as producers to make sure that our QA/QC standards are not something that ever crosses their minds.  They have a right to expect the perfect product every time.  That being said, behind the scenes there is a huge focus on quality control, food safety (yes wine is a food product even though some people are just beginning to figure that out!), HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points), and quality assurance.  Wine is an inherently safe beverage to consume.  The alcohol level and low pH kill off most any pathogenic microbe that may want to come and wreck your day however there are plenty of microbes that will make the wine much less enjoyable than we as winemakers intended it to be.  We have these quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC for the uninitiated) in place to ensure that not only are our customers safe but they have an enjoyable and pleasant tasting experience every time they choose to buy our wines. 

            So that brings me back to our audit process.  We have several audits through out the year, some internal and some external that ensure we are maintaining the highest current standards of safety and quality as well as looking for ways to improve.  This is not the glamorous part of my job but it is just as important as all of those harvest decisions we make during the fall in order to make fabulous wines.  This one was the FSQM audit which looks at many different issues above and beyond the standard “is your winery clean”.  Track and Trace is becoming critical in a world where all industries source many products from overseas. You always need to know where your consumer goods be they food, wine additives or toys comes from.  Everyone remembers the Chinese Melamine crisis from a few years ago.  Well, these processes are in place to ensure that the wine industry is never hit by a similar issue.  This is an important issue and even though it is not as romantic as barrels or as refreshing as a stroll through the vineyards it is one that should be addressed by all businesses in any industry.  I for one am glad I’m working in wine and not milk or meat but we hold ourselves to the same standard of quality because we want our customers to have the best quality wine, not just safe wine.

            We passed by the way…

            The other fun thing that happened this week is Ford Trucks filmed a commercial at Asti on the same day.  It was fun seeing the new truck being staged with barrels, fence posts, wires, and other random things that one would use in a vineyard and winery.  It definitely made the day a unique one at the winery!

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