CTS Wine Program History
In the late 1990s several companies in the North American wine industry recognized the importance of a strong laboratory quality assurance system, as well as the risks and costs associated with poor measurement performance. Interlaboratory testing was deemed an important piece in any laboratory's quality system. The American Society for Enology and Viticulture (ASEV) became a lead advocate for establishing formal quality systems in winery laboratories. In 1999 the ASEV Analytical Quality (ad hoc) Committee developed a CD showcasing highlights of the principles of winery laboratory quality management to assist wineries. This ASEV Technical Projects Committee (TPC) sub-committee later became the ASEV Lab Proficiency Testing Guidance Committee (LPTGC) which acted as a liaison body for this wine program with CTS from 1990 through early 2010.
In the absence of an industry organization to set standards, CTS’ interlaboratory programs often employ a “bottom-up” approach in which all evaluation criteria are developed by participating laboratories. The ASEV acting through its lab proficiency committee recognized that this approach would mesh well with their goal of focusing all industry labs, from the largest producers to smaller wineries, on improving analytical laboratory performance. Events proceeded quickly and by March 1999 samples were being sent to laboratories for the first interlaboratory trial. Two published articles on lab proficiency in the American Journal of Enology and Viticulture (AJEV) reference the CTS data or the Quality Systems for Winery Laboratories CD.
The CTS wine program evolved with time. One of the first changes (2001) was switching from a quarterly program to a triennial schedule, allowing laboratories with limited staff to fully participate without compromising the crush season. Also in 2001, rotating research properties were added to explore new properties and to allow testing in previously uncovered areas. A Quality Manager’s Report was developed in 2003 to enable wineries with different locations and multiple laboratories to monitor results across the entire organization. The next program outcome was to give new insights about the differential performance of the multiple assays used to measure the nominally same properties. CTS made a special presentation on this topic at the ASEV 2006 Annual Meeting. This led CTS to offer two different analyses for sugar content that year and two method-based results being included in every web report. In 2009 Absorption at 420 and 520 nm and in 2011 Copper (Cu) Content were added to the regular list of properties in the program after successful evaluation as research properties.
CTS and ASEV continue to have an agreement and the CTS lab proficiency wine program is featured on the ASEV website.