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We’ve summarized some key questions to consider for your business when purchasing wine tanks. Use these as a reference whether you’re a first-time winemaker or looking to establish a new production line.
Wine tanks are vessels designed for a particular processes in wine production including: fermentation, blending, aging, storage or packaging of wine. The right type, size, shape and kind of tank material typically tends to depend on your production space, style, technique and personal preference. “Choosing the right vessels will make your time spent in the winery more enjoyable,” says Winemaker Magazine. Whether you’re making the move from home winemaking (100-200 gallons per year legal limit depending on household size) to commercial winemaking or just fine-tuning your production facility, proper equipment is essential to making a successful product.
Much of the winemaking process can be accomplished using modular or general purpose tanks that are easily adaptable with fittings and accessories. However, certain processes such as red wine fermentation are better served by specialized tanks. Red wine fermentation tanks are typically wider vessels with open tops or removable lightweight covers. These accessible tanks provide easy access for circulating and hydrating the skin cap. On the other side of the aisle, white or rosé fermentation needs are simpler and can easily be completed with general purpose tanks. One rule of thumb to remember though, if you’re looking to blend wine, your tank size must be at least as large as the biggest vessel in the winery and will ideally be fitted with a mechanical mixer, though this will depend on blending technique and total capacity.
Tank capacities can range from 220 to 25,000 liters and can be used for a variety of purposes. Many general purpose tanks can be customized to alter the internal dimensions. This concept is particularly useful for different lot sizes and is frequently used by wineries producing both large flagship products as well as limited specialty brands. Some tanks use “floating” internal lids that can be moved within the tank. The lid is then sealed by inflatable tubes, which reduces unnecessary headspace in the tank.
The good news is there are many portable tank options available.These types of tank are common in small or urban wineries. They’re typically moved by forklifts or pallet jacks around warehouse properties and can be stacked when not in use to allow for events, packaging, or easy cleaning. Shorter, box-like red wine fermentation vessels typically tend to be the most convenient portable tanks.
The Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute encourages especially smaller winemakers to use oak staves or chips as an alternative to large oak barrels. These chips come in many varieties and can easily be added to plastic or steel containers and removed when desired.
According to South Africa’s WineLand Magazine, temperature control is critical to maintaining thermal characteristics close to that of wood or concrete, regardless of how you choose to store or age your wine.
The optimal temperature is often up for debate, however it’s important to create a controlled environment for your wine so the temperature is under your, not the surrounding environment’s, control. So what are the options?