How Long Does It Take To Build A 30-Story Building Concrete Wine Fermentation Tanks Make Great Wine

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Concrete Wine Fermentation Tanks Make Great Wine

A year ago I wrote a story about some winery owners. I was drawn to these stories because of my passion for wine, knowing and appreciating many of the winery owners that many of them started from scratch. I also respect their innovative efforts. One of the innovations I discovered was the use of concrete fermentation tanks until recently they were brought to Napa from Europe. But now, high quality concrete tanks are manufactured in USA

Recently I had a meeting with some winemakers and overheard a conversation about concrete fermentation tanks and recalled a previous conversation with a winemaker and his experiences with concrete. Now my interest is renewed in concrete in winemaking. Concrete can be interesting, so let me tell you about making a concrete tank for wine.

In the United States, there are some manufacturers who design and build concrete fermentation tanks for the wine industry. These companies are located near wine country. Concrete has been around since Roman times and has been used in Europe’s wine industry for hundreds of years; But you’ve only seen a renewed interest in concrete in the US wine industry in the last 10 years. Concrete’s serious popularity has hit its stride in the past 5 years with Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast wineries. This is partly due to the innovative thinkers who make fine wines. US manufacturers have been making concrete wine tanks for about 6 years. The number of tanks made in the United States is impressive; About 75 in 2011.

Launching the industry in the US was difficult because it was the domain of stainless steel and wooden barrels. But with some research and publicity, the tide is turning on the benefits of concrete.

However, concrete is not called cement. I was politely told that cement is used to make concrete which is much stronger than cement itself.

There are about 17 wineries in Napa and Sonoma that currently use concrete fermentation tanks. Concrete tanks have been around Napa for over 50 years. But until about 5 years ago modern tanks came from France. Some big name winemakers and winery owners have stepped forward over the past 8 years to promote the benefits of concrete tanks. Today, concrete fermentation tanks manufactured in the United States are sold internationally in Georgia, Washington, Oregon and New York and New Zealand. There are about 40 wineries in the United States using concrete tanks. Notably, a winery in Napa was awarded 98 points for one of its wines fermented using concrete tanks.

A winery in Napa recently took delivery of 2 concrete fermentation tanks; Each weighs 13,500 pounds and holds 1,500 gallons each. Tank costs are difficult to define, but, as a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay $1,500 to $10,000 for a new tank, including hardware. However, there are no standards about concrete fermentation tanks, each is ordered with many styles and capacities. By all accounts it looks like 2012 will sell twice as many concrete wine fermentation tanks as 2011.

What difference can a wine-lover taste when wine is fermented in concrete vs. steel? The results are documented and even include some blind tastings of wines fermented in concrete, stainless steel, wooden vats and oak. If a winemaker wants the nose and texture of oak, oak is obvious. Concrete, on the other hand, when done properly, is made of clean, natural materials that are controlled throughout the process. One thing oak and concrete have in common is that both allow oxygenation of the wine; Both materials are porous.

Cement does not add or take away or mask soil. This allows everything to be displayed. I’d like to get a tasting expert to comment on the record someday about concrete fermented wines. Now that would be interesting.

There are 8 steps in the process of building a tank. The first step is to determine the desired capacity and shape, then commit it to a computer model that will calculate dimensions, weight and pressure. Next, the step is to select accessories such as leg support style, front or top ‘manway’, coils for heating and cooling, valve placement and whether you want an open or closed top. The third step is to make the mold by hand according to the computer design specifications. At this point (step four), the specially formulated concrete is mixed and poured by hand over the mold. It takes about 3 days for the concrete to cure after this process is done. In the fifth step, the mold is separated from the inside. Finishing and slurry coating the inside and outside of the vessel, followed by step seven which is adding the hardware accessories. The last step, number eight, is to check the quality and prepare the tank for shipment anywhere in the world. From start to finish these processes result in a tank in 4 to 6 weeks, ready for shipping. And the benefits are affordable wine storage units, easy to clean tanks and a long lasting product.

Concrete mix is ​​a special proprietary mix designed by some true professionals and free of any chemical additives. So don’t worry about giving concrete its own character.

Who would have thought that concrete was important to winemaking?

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