Quality from Forest to Bottle
Cork Supply excels at delivering the industry's leading quality assurance for top-of-the-bottle products, especially our premium natural corks. Our strict, innovative quality assurance systems and quality training programs are based on ISO Standards, and ensure 100% traceability is combined with continuous preventative and curative quality control measures integrated throughout each and every part of our company.
Vertical Integration Assures Quality from Forest to Bottle:
The vertically integrated systems pioneered by Cork Supply revolutionizes how quality is assured and defined in our industry, ensuring all our forested corkwood and produced cork closures undergo rigorous, continuous inspection and testing at every stage from forest to bottle.
From the Forest QA:
Our unique quality assurance systems reach deep into the cork forest and begin while the corkwood is still on the tree. From early in the growing cycle, our professional foresters work side by side with forest growers providing technical assistance to apply advanced farming techniques and improve soil and corkwood quality. Our forestry experts also take periodic sampling of corkwood from trees for sensory and SPME-GC/MS analysis, maintain historical sample libraries and computerized databases that map detailed forest and corkwood conditions and trends, and hand-select the very best forests and trees whose premium corkwood we ultimately punch into corks.
Corkwood Harvesting & Selection QA:
Comprehensive quality controls and forester oversight are integrated throughout the harvesting, grading and purchasing stages of the raw corkwood, ensuring we use only the finest quality corkwood that meets our rigid incoming production acceptance threshold for releasable TCA of < 1.5ng/L. Among the most critical, pioneering TCA-prevention methods Cork Supply has instituted in the forest during the harvest stage is the immediate removal of calços (the bark most near the soil) from harvested corkwood planks. Likewise, intensive grading and separation of punchable corkwood from thinwood and scrap occurs immediately upon harvest in the forest, under the strict supervision of our foresters.
Corkwood Preparation & Handling QA:
To ensure the harvested corkwood is handled with the strictest quality controls upon leaving the forest, Cork Supply exclusively owns and operates a modernized corkwood preparation facility near the cork forests of southern Portugal. In 2008, this facility was newly equipped with many new upgrades — among them, a cement corkwood stabilization park that is sloped to prevent unwanted concentration of moisture and organic matter, and an eco-friendly corkwood boiler that optimizes resource efficiencies using closed-loop heat-transfer and water-filtration systems.
Cork Production QA:
During the cork production stage, punched cork lots are continuously inspected, graded and sorted (manually and electronically) for critical defects and sensory attributes by our expertly trained quality assurance team. Cork Supply also uses SPME-GC/MS analysis to continuously monitor incoming raw materials as well as environmental operating conditions in our production and warehouse facilities.
Even though our incoming acceptance threshold of < 1.5 ng/L and compliance testing already assures that releasable TCA in our cork lots are below levels detectable by human senses, we nonetheless treat every natural cork lot to our exclusive Innocork® process. In addition to further minimizing levels of TCA and other unwanted aromas up to 85%, Innocork ensures better sensory uniformity — delivering consistently neutral natural corks.
Independent Outgoing QA:
No cork lot leaves our Cork Supply production facility in Northern Portugal until it has once again been inspected, tested and verified using advanced sensory and SPME-GC/MS analysis to assure every cork lot shipping from Cork Supply complies with our outgoing production acceptance threshold for releasable TCA of < 1.5ng/L.
To the Bottle QA:
All of the natural corks that Cork Supply sells around the world are supplied by our facility in Portugal. In between Portugal and your bottle, Cork Supply owns and operates modernized cork finishing facilities in North and South America, Australia, South Africa and Europe. Our local experts, inventories and operations enable us to provide prompt, personal, customized service locally — ensuring top quality support comes with our top quality products.
In each locale, as in Portugal, Cork Supply institutes our strict integrated quality assurance systems, ensures 100% traceability, monitors incoming raw materials and operational environment conditions, and maintains an advanced technical laboratory that inspects, tests and analyzes every cork lot shipped from Portugal. Before our corks are delivered to your winery in sterilized bags sealed with SO2 (accompanied by a Quality Assurance Report), they undergo additional rounds of local incoming and outgoing sensory testing and SPME-GC/MS analysis to ensure they remain within our acceptance threshold for releasable TCA of < 1.5 ng/L. Finally, we offer our customers expert technical assistance to help your team identify and manage critical quality control factors at your winery.
So you see, quality assurance from Cork Supply really does mean quality from forest to bottle.