Saturday, October 26, 2013

Return of the Winepod

Greg Snell recently brought the Winepod back to market after a four year absence.

I decided to bring my Winepod back to life for use in commercial production.  After four years of producing pre-commercial batches of Finger Lakes Riesling in the Winepod, I set the Winepod aside in 2011.  Thin lines of rust began to appear on the surface of the stainless steel tank.  The Winepod can only be used to conduct primary fermentation on just under 20 gallons of wine.  My initial commercial run was 320 gallons.  So I performed primary and secondary fermentations in four 80 gallon FlexTanks.  But I've been saving bottles from those past Winepod productions, and when I open one to share with friends, I'm surprised how beautifully they have aged.  So the question comes to mind: "Is the quality of wine produced in a FlexTank different from that produced in a Winepod?"

I cleaned away the rust from the exterior and loaded just over 19 gallons of Riesling juice into the Winepod.  Fortunately, the inside remained un-rusted and pristine over the past two years of sitting idle.

The first week of primary fermentation has concluded, and there is already one notable difference.  Both tanks sit in the same room, both started at the same 23 degrees Brix.  But after a week, the FlexTank measures 10.3 degrees Brix, and the Winepod measures 14 degrees Brix.  The fermentation in the FlexTank was faster at the start. 

The Winepod has a temperature controller that keeps the temperature from spiking during the primary fermentation.  I use a Vornado space-heater with a fan to maintain the temperature in the room at 62 degrees F.
The Vornado cannot cool the FlexTank as well as the anti-freeze jacket in the Winepod even though it keeps the overall room temperature remarkably steady.  I'll continue to monitor the differences as the fermentation proceeds.  The taste test will be the true indicator of whether a temperature spike or increased rate of primary fermentation has any lasting effect on the wine.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fall at Shier Winery...The Adventure Begins Again

It is still warm, but the leaves are turning at the Shier Winery.  Almost time to start the winemaking process all over again.  In order to clear space in the tanks for this year's Riesling, I had to bottle 35 cases this past weekend.  
For those out there that have never used a hand corker or lifted and carried 5 gallon carboys, it is a little bit of a workout.  But the worst part is breathing all of the sulfur dioxide that keeps the whole operation sanitary.  Luckily the exhaust fan that I installed to pull out the carbon dioxide also earns its capital investment by clearing the SO2 cloud.
17 of these carboys filled 35 cases of 2012 Riesling. 
99 cases of bottles.