There’s a few cool climate wines unique to Switzerland that you should check out, including Chasselas and Vin des Glaciers. But there’s only one Swiss-made wine cabinet that does them (or any varietal for that matter) any justice: V-ZUG’s WineCooler range, which bears all the hallmarks of this boutique manufacturer’s commitment to design excellence and engineering innovation.
A 90-centimetres high version of the company’s V4000 wine cabinet has been available in Australia for some time in V-ZUG’s signature mirror glass finish. Now joining it is a more compact version at 45 centimetres high, making it a perfect dimensional match for the brand’s oven and combi-steamer range. It’s a particular coup for the symmetry obsessives out there, or simply offering a more flexible option for wine afficionados with limited space. It also now comes in shades of platinum and pearl, which were introduced with the launch of the Excellence line in 2020.
What carries through from the larger product is the premium presentation options made possible by a unique, patented tray mechanism, which can be set flat for maximum storage or angled to meet the more performative aspect of enjoying wine. Steering the development of this latest addition to V-ZUG’s cooling offering were Tomi Tomljenovic, Product Manager of Cooling & Dish, and Max Arnold, Head of Research & Development at the company’s specialist refrigeration site in Sulgen. Both were committed to the ‘presentation mode’ being still available despite the reduction in volume.
“When developing such features you’re all often faced with a compromise between different customer requirements,” continues Tomljenovic. “For example, if you look at the tray – when it is angled you can place five bottles in a row, or when it’s flat, six bottles. But we think that losing one bottle actually gives some more benefit to the customer. Our team is trying to collect all these different requirements from the customer, and in this case, we decided we will focus on giving this presentation mode for flexibility. It really gives another look… We say that V-ZUG is a minimalistic design brand, but our products are always ready to shine when the time comes.”
Contributing to the V4000’s wow factor is the ability to adjust the lighting within the WineCooler from off, when the mirror glass helps the unit recede into the background, to a more intense level of light to elegantly showcase that special bottle of wine. These are covetable features, particularly when most current wine fridges are either lit up like Christmas trees or hidden behind integrated joinery.
Other features the V4000 shares with its larger cousin include low-energy consumption and state of the art technology. And typically for V-ZUG, these two aspects combine in a new door heating element which has been developed for international markets where heat and humidity are more prevalent, such as Australia.
“What naturally would happen from a physics perspective, is you would have condensation problems on this glass,” explains Arnold. “So we have a small heating element around the gasket to avoid this condensation. From a technical perspective, this adds complexity, but we do believe in terms of our international mindset that it is reasonable to put that complexity into the product. But it is also important that we do not use additional energy to heat it, so we use a ‘hot refrigerant’. There’s a cooling fluid which is running through the pipes, and at some points in a circle, it is cold and at some points it is hot. And when it is hot, we actually use it to heat the gasket to make sure the glass door doesn’t condensate.”
Solving these kinds of challenging engineering issues to deliver technical – and sustainable – excellence is something V-ZUG does across its product portfolio, from the Adora Dishwasher, which was the first in the sector to store and re-use the last rinse of a cycle for the first rinse of the next, to the Adora dryer for which there aren’t enough stars on the energy labels in Australia to accurately reflect its performance as having the most energy-efficient heat pump in the world.
Sustainability was also a key consideration in the decision to use timber for the shelves and presentation tray of the V4000. Made from sustainably-forested Beech sourced from East Switzerland through a company that employs people with disability, the timber comes in a lighter hue for platinum and pearl units, and a darker finish for the classic black mirror glass version.
For Arnold, the V4000 represents a high point in the collective talents present at V-ZUG’s Sulgen facility, where the V4000 Cooling products are developed and manufactured (the V6000 range are manufactured in Italy, in partnership with Fhiaba). At Sulgen you’ll find a variety of different engineering disciplines working alongside project managers, Arnold’s research and development team, all co-located with laboratories and production facilities for ease of prototyping.
“What empowers our team and enables such cool products is we don’t have a straight line between our functions, we see ourselves more as a high performing team… It really needed the whole team to make the V4000 but we made it fly and in the end that, for me, is what counts. We’re super proud to have launched this product.”
For Tomljenovic, who joined V-ZUG twenty-one years ago at the age of fifteen working part-time while completing school, he’s always enjoyed the thrill of launching a product, and in the case of the V4000 it was given prime position in the headquarters’ showroom. But he’s quick to bring that back to the importance of feedback from customers to V-ZUG’s definition of success.
“When you get positive feedback, not only from wine lovers, but from kitchen builders, designers and architects, this is a really nice moment, when you see that all the hard work of the team has been worth it.”